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LEO TOLSTOY 
HIS LIFE AND WORK 



THE WORKS OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Library Edition 
Demy Bvo. Price js. 6d. per Volume 

TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN BY 
CONSTANCE GARNETT 

ANNA KAREN IN. In Two Volumes, with Photo- 

gravurt Frontispiece. 
THE DEATH OF IVAN ILYITCH. In One 

Volitme. 
WAR AND PEACE. In Three Volumes. 

ALSO Br THE SAME AUTHOR. 

THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU. 
2J. 6d. 

WORK WHILE YE HA VE THE LIGHT. 
Clotk, 3*. 6d. ; paper cavers, ys. (xi. 

THE FRUITS OF ENLIGHTENMENT. With 
Portrait, $s. ; or in paper covers, is. ftd. 

THE END OF THE AGE. Price as. 



LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN 
21 Bedford Street, W.C. 




LEO TOLSTOY 

HIS LIFE AND WORK 



AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMOIRS 
LETTERS AND BIOGRAPHICAL 
MATERIAL, COMPILED BY 
PAUL BIRUKOFF AND REVISED 
BY LEO TOLSTOY 



FROM THE RUSSIAN 

VOL. I. 
CHILDHOOD AND EARLY MANHOOD 



LONDON 
WILLIAM HEINEMANN 

MCMVI 



Y ^ t? L 1 



This volume is issued by arrangement with V, Tchertkoff, sole 

literary representative of Leo Tolstoy outside Russia ; 

and Editor of " The Free Age Press" 

Christchurch, Hants. 



No rights reserved 



WITH FEELINGS OF SINCERE GRATITUDE 

I DEDICATE 

THIS VOLUME TO 

MY WIFE 

WHO BY HER SELF-SACRIFICING LABOURS SECURED 
ME THE NECESSARY LEISURE FOR PREPARING THIS 
BOOK ; AS WELL AS TO ALL THOSE UNKNOWN 
WORKERS WHO WERE ENGAGED IN LABOUR OF A 
HEAVIER NATURE WHILST 1 HAD THE PRIVILEGE 
OF THIS PLEASANT WORK 

PAUL BIRUKOFF 



CONTENTS 



PART I 

THE FAMILY ORIGIN OF LEO TOLSTOY 

CHAP. PAGE 

I. THE ANCESTORS OF LEO TOLSTOY ON HIS FATHER'S SIDE . 3 

II. THE ANCESTORS OF LEO TOLSTOY ON HIS MOTHER'S SIDE . 11 

III. TOLSTOY'S PARENTS 17 



PART II 

CHILDHOOD, BOYHOOD, AND YOUTH (1828-1850) 

IV. CHILDHOOD 33 

V. BOYHOOD 58 

VI. YOUTH . 80 

PART III 

MILITARY SERVICE (1851-1857) 

VII. THE CAUCASUS 117 

VIII. THE DANUBE AND SEBASTOPOL 163 

IX. ST. PETERSBURG . 192 

X. ROMANCE .221 

Til 



viii CONTENTS 



PART IV 

TRAVELS, LITERARY AND SOCIAL ACTIVITY 

CHAP. PAGE 

XI. THE FIRST JOURNEY ABROAD LIFK IN Moscow BEAR- 
HUNTING 233 

XII. THE SECOND JOURNEY ABROAD His BROTHER'S DEATH . 2(53 

XIII. TOLSTOY AND TURGENEP EMANCIPATION OP THE SERFS 

MEDIATION 298 

XIV. EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY OP TOLSTOY FOUNDATION OP THE 

SCHOOL THEORIES 315 

XV. THE WORK OP THE YASNAYA POLYANA SCHOOL . . . 334 

XVI. MARRIAGE SHORT RKVIEW OP TOLSTOY'S WORKS . . 355 

XVII. CONCLUSION 363 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



COUNT P. A. TOLSTOY, THE FIRST COUNT TOLSTOY . To face page 4 

COUNT I. A. TOLSTOY, LEO TOLSTOY'S PATERNAL 

GRANDFATHER ,, 8 

PRINCE N. S. VOLKONSKY, LEO TOLSTOY'S MATERNAL 

GRANDFATHER ,,12 

LEO TOLSTOY'S MOTHER AND HER SISTER ,,18 

COUNT N. I. TOLSTOY, LEO TOLSTOY'S FATHER 24 

THE HOUSE IN WHICH LEO TOLSTOY WAS BORN AT 

YASNAYA POLYANA (since removed to Dolgoye) . 34 

OLD ENTRANCE TO YASNAYA POLYANA PARK 36 

PRESENT ENTRANCE TO YASNAYA POLYANA PARK . 38 

AVENUE OF BIRCH TREES LEADING TO THE HOUSE . 42 

A VIEW IN YASNAYA POLYANA PARK ,,46 

A VIEW OF THE VILLAGE, YASNAYA POLYANA 60 

LEO TOLSTOY AND HIS BROTHER, COUNT SERGEY 
NICOLAYEVICH (shortly before the death of the 
latter, taken at about the time Leo Tolstoy wrote 

his reminiscences for this volume) . ; . , 64 

V. I. YUSHKOF, LEO TOLSTOY'S UNCLE ,,66 

KAZAN UNIVERSITY IN TOLSTOY'S STUDENT YEARS . 82 
LEO TOLSTOY AT THE TIME OF HIS LEAVING THE 

UNIVERSITY, 1848 ....... ,,94 

LEO TOLSTOY AT THE TIME OF HIS DEPARTURE FOR 

THE CAUCASUS, 1861 ,, 122 



x LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

THE COUNTRY HOUSE OF TOLSTOY'S AUNT YUSHKOF, 

WHERE HE VISITED DURING HIS STUDENT DAYS . To face page 130 

LEO TOLSTOY AND HIS BROTHERS (before he left to 

join the Danube army, 1854) . . . ,,168 

LEO TOLSTOY, 1864 . ... . . . ,,168 

THE SEBASTOPOL SONG . . Page 185 

A GROUP OF CONTRIBUTORS TO THE " SOVREMENNIK " 
(The Contemporary Magazine). 1. Leo Tolstoy. 

2. Grigorovich. 3. Goncharof. 4. Turgenef. 

5. Drujinin. 6. Ostrovsky . . . . . .To face page 194 

ANOTHER GROUP OF CONTRIBUTORS TO THE " SOV- 
REMENNIK." 1. Turgenef. 2. Grigorovich. 

3. Nekrassof. 4. Sollogub. 6. Panayef . . 198 

CARICATURE OF THE " INEVITABLE CONTRIBUTORS " 
TO THE " SOVREMENNIK." 1. Panayef (Editor). 
2. Nekrassof (Co -Editor). 3. Grigorovich. 

4. Turgenef. 6. Ostrovsky. 6. Tolstoy 202 

LEO TOLSTOY AT THE TIME OF HIS RETIREMENT FROM 

MILITARY SERVICE IN 1856 216 

LEO TOLSTOY DURING HIS SECOND STAY ABROAD, 1860 278 

A FACSIMILE OF A LETTER WRITTEN BY LEO TOLSTOY 
IN 1860 (since when his handwriting has changed 
considerably) 282 

THE HOUSE AT YASNAYA POLYANA USED BY LEO 

TOLSTOY AS A SCHOOL, 1860-62 320 

LEO TOLSTOY DURING HIS EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY, 1862 336 

COUNTESS S. A. TOLSTOY IN 1860, BEFORE HER 

MARRIAGE ,, 356 



INTRODUCTION 



Reasons for writing the biography Correspondence with Countess S. A. 
Tolstoy The definition of biography Collection of materials Division 
of the sources of materials into four parts according to their importance 
Correspondence with Tolstoy Assistance of V. Tchertkoff Unfavour- 
able conditions of the work Letters of Tolstoy concerning his participa- 
tion in the work The division of the biography into periods of seven 
years Reminiscences of Tolstoy The division of the whole biography 
into three volumes The true significance of Leo Tolstoy P.S. The 
list of materials used in the first three parts in the alphabetic order of 
the authors' names. 

CONSCIOUS of my inability, it is with diffidence and hesitation 
that I approach this work, sacred in my eyes the life-story 
of my teacher, the aged prophet, Leo Tolstoy. 

Only a few years ago I was so far from dreaming of this 
undertaking that, while living much of my time in close 
proximity to Tolstoy, and often staying in his house for hours 
or even whole days, it never entered into my mind to make 
any note or record of what I heard from Tolstoy himself or 
from those about him. Now, an exile 1 for my religious opinions, 
living far from my country and far from Tolstoy, I have set 
myself to accomplish this important task. 

I was first encouraged to do it by the French publisher 
Stock, who, when taking in hand a complete publication of 
Tolstoy's works in French, asked me if I would revise the 
Russian texts and write a biography of the author. 

I knew very well that it was impossible to write the biography 
of a man still living without the consent of himself and his 
family, so, before accepting Stock's offer, I wrote to Countess 
Tolstoy, asking if she had any objection to my undertaking 
the biography of her husband. I received from her a kind 
and encouraging reply, from which I will quote a few lines : 

' ... Of course you ought to write the biography, and 
Lyof Nicolayevich could answer many of your questions, only 

1 See P.S. to this Introduction. 
xl 



xii INTRODUCTION 

you must not delay. The life so precious to us all was on the 
point of passing away. But now Lyof Nicolayevich is pro- 
gressing favourably and is again at work. 1 

This letter bears the date July 19, 1901, and was written 
directly after Tolstoy's severe illness. 

On receipt of this letter I did not trouble Tolstoy himself, 
being convinced beforehand that he would not stand in my 
way; I accepted Stock's offer and set to work. 

When I began to look into my materials and to consider the 
nature and the plan of the work I was undertaking, I grew 
alarmed on the one hand at its magnitude, while on the other I 
felt more and more fascinated by it, and, carried away as I was 
with the subject, I became so much engrossed with it, that at 
the present moment I look upon it as my -life's work and heed 
no considerations which are offered from a publisher's point 
of view. 

Some preliminary labour had to be spent in the collection 
of materials. These I divide into four categories according to 
their importance and value. 

In the first category I place Tolstoy's own autobiographical 
notes, as well as his letters and diaries. Such notes can be 
turned to much better account in the lifetime of the author, 
for the reason that any discrepancies between them and in- 
formation derived from other sources can be explained by the 
author himself. 

In the second category I place reminiscences and notices 
generally of Tolstoy by those who knew him personally, such 
as relations, friends, and acquaintances who had immediate 
intercourse with him. It may also include various kinds of 
official documents, such as certificates of birth, documents of 
the educational authorities, official records of State service, 
copies from judicial and administrative documents, and so on. 

The third category includes notices of Tolstoy from outside 
sources, as well as works of his own in which real facts are 
intermingled with fiction by the play of the artistic imagination. 
But these, when looked at from a biographer's point of view, 
must be treated with great caution. 

Lastly, the fourth category consists of sundry short articles, 
not to speak of whole books, which, though badly or clumsily 
written, or coming from authors who are not wholly trust- 
worthy, yet have a certain comparative value where there is a 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

gap left by other works. These I do not consider it necessary 
to enumerate. 

Foreign literature gives us very few facts, especially in rela- 
tion to the first period of Tolstoy's life. For this reason I do 
not make a separate list of foreign works, but include them in 
the general catalogue. 

At the end of this Introduction is appended a list of all the 
written materials I have used. 

After my first few steps in the examination of the collected 
materials, I found it necessary to seek personal intercourse with 
Tolstoy, as he alone could explain a number of obscure points 
by which I was puzzled. For a long while I hesitated, wondering 
whether it was right to trouble him, but at last I made up my 
mind to write to him and say that I had resolved to approach 
him with a few questions. Being aware that he permitted 
artists to take his portrait or make busts of him and amateur 
photographers to take his likeness, though all this gave him 
no pleasure, I requested him to sit for me too, as I wished to 
make a picture of him in words. To this he returned his 
kind consent in the following terms in a letter of December 
2, 1901 : 

* ... I shall be very glad to give you a sitting and will 
categorically answer your questions. 1 

My friend V. Tchertkoff rendered me an important service 
by consenting to lay open for my work his rich archive of 
Tolstoy's private correspondence and of extracts from his 
diaries. 

One great drawback to my labour was the fact that, through 
a senseless administrative order, 1 I was exiled from Russia, and 
have thus been deprived of an opportunity of consulting the 
man whose life I was writing, as well as prevented from working 
in Russian public libraries and archives ; a circumstance which 
greatly hindered my work so far as dependent on the use of 
extracts from old periodicals, although, owing to the kindness 
of some owners of private Russian libraries and to the literary 
wealth of the Russian Department of the British Museum, this 
obstacle has been to some extent overcome. I have done my 
best in accordance with conscience and reason to meet these 
difficulties ; I even petitioned the Minister of Interior to be 
allowed to visit Russia for two months, but I received a 
1 See P.S. to this Introduction. 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

distinct refusal. I therefore cannot look upon my task as 
complete. 

As to the first volume, which I am now publishing, I may 
state that the readers will find there something perfectly new 
I mean Tolstoy's memories of his childhood, and of his 
relations, as well as a great many of his private letters. 

In order to illustrate for the reader the difficulty which 
Tolstoy had in writing his Reminiscences, as well as the way 
in which to treat them, I will quote a few extracts from our 
correspondence upon the subject. 

I had written several times to Tolstoy and also to his 
intimate friends begging the latter to write down anything 
that, during quiet evening conversations, they might hear 
from him about his childhood. 

At last I received the following communication from 
Tolstoy : 

* ... At first I thought that I should not be able to help 
you with my biography, notwithstanding all my desire to do 
so. I was afraid of the insincerity incidental to every auto- 
biography, but now I seem to have found a form in which I 
can meet your wish by pointing out the distinguishing features 
of the consecutive periods of my life, in childhood, youth, and 
manhood. As soon as I find it possible, I will devote some 
hours to this work, and will endeavour to carry it out.' 

In one of his subsequent letters he writes : 

' . . . I am afraid that it was in vain I gave you hopes by 
my promise to write my Reminiscences. I have tried to think 
about it, and I saw what a dreadful difficulty it is to avoid 
the Charybdis of self-praise (by keeping silence about all that 
is bad), and the Scylla of cynical frankness about all the 
abomination of one's life. Were a man to describe all his 
odiousness, stupidity, viciousness, vileness quite truthfully, 
even more truthfully than Rousseau it would be a seductive 
book or article. People would say : " Here is a man whom 
many place high, but look what a scoundrel he was ; if so, then 
for us ordinary folk it is all the more admissible. 11 

' Seriously, when I began to recall vividly to my mind all 
my life and saw all its stupidity (sheer stupidity) and abomi- 
nation, I thought, "What then are other men if I, praised 
by many, am such a stupid worm ? " And yet this could be 
explained by the fact that I am more cunning than others. 



INTRODUCTION 



xv 



I tell you all this not for the sake of verbal display, but quite 
sincerely. I have personally experienced it. 1 

Seeing his hesitation and being alive to the great importance 
of the subject, I still insisted, and I sent him the outlines of 
the intended biography by way of canvas for him to embroider. 

In my scheme I set forth the plan of dividing human life 
into periods of seven years 1 duration. I heard once from 
Tolstoy that he believed that, as physiologists divide human 
life into periods of seven years, so psychological life has the 
same periods of growth, and that each period of seven years 1 
duration has its own moral physiognomy. 

In arranging thus briefly the facts of Tolstoy^ life we arrive 
at the following scheme : 



YEARS. TOLSTOY'S AGE. 

(1) 1828-35. From birth to 7 years. 

(2) 1835-42. 7 to 14 years. . 

(3) 1842-49. 14 to 21 . 

(4) 1849-56. 21 to 28 . 



(5) 1856-63. 28 to 35 . 



16) 1863-70. 

(7) 1870-77. 

(8) 1877-84. 

(9) 1884-91. 



35 to 42 

42 to 49 

49 to 56 

56 to 63 



(10) 1891-98. 63 to 70 ,, 



(11) 1898-1905. 70 to 77 



CONTENTS OF THE PERIODS. 

Childhood. 

Boyhood. 

Youth, studies, university, country 
life and farming. 

The beginning of a literary career : 
the Caucasus, Sebastopol, St. 
Petersburg. 

Retirement from service. Travels, 
death of a brother, educational 
activity, service as a "Mediator," 
marriage. 

Married life. War and Peace. Farm- 
ing. 

The famine in Samara. AnnaKarenin. 
The summit of literary fame, 
family happiness arid wealth. 

Crisis. How I Came to Believe (My 
Confession). New Testament. 
What I Believe. 

Moscow. What shall we do? Litera- 
ture for the people. Posrednik. 
Spread of ideas in the classes 
and the masses. The Critics. 

Famine. The Kingdom of God M 
Within You. The Doukhobors. 
The persecutions of the sup- 
porters of these views. 

Resurrection. Excommunication. The 
latest period. Appeal to the 
military, the people, the clergy, 
and social reformers. The war. 



On even a cursory glance at this scheme the reader must 
notice the spiritual tendency of each period. And this scheme 
or plan has not remained without results. Before long I 

VOL. i. b 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

received a letter from Tolstoy in which, among other things, 
he writes: 

' . . . With regard to my biography, I may tell you that 
I very much desire to help you and to write at least what is 
most essential. I decided that I might write it, because I 
can understand that it may be interesting and possibly useful 
to men, were I to show all the abomination of the life I led 
before my awakening, and speaking without false modesty 
what was good in it (were it only in intentions, which, owing 
to my weakness, were not being always realised) after the 
awakening. It is in this spirit that I should like to write it 
for you. Your programme of seven year periods is useful 
to me and does indeed suggest thoughts. I will endeavour 
to occupy myself with this as soon as I complete the work 
I am now engaged in. 1 

Finally, in a few more months I received a rough draft of 
the first part of his reminiscences written by Tolstoy. I 
hastened to make use of them, putting his own vivid descrip- 
tions in the place of colourless passages of the biography I had 
begun. At the first opportunity which I had I forwarded to 
Tolstoy the early chapters of my work, asking him to give his 
opinion of it. In his answer he says : 

' . . . My general impression is that you make very good 
use of my notes, but I avoid entering into details, as this might 
draw me into the work of correcting, which I wish to avoid. 
So I leave it all to you, merely requesting that in your 
biography, when citing extracts from my notes, you should 
add that they are taken from uncorrected draft notes sent to 
yon and put at your disposal by me? 

I relate all this here in order to free Tolstoy from all literary 
responsibility, and, in accordance with his wish, I quote the 
italicised sentence both in the Introduction and with all the 
extracts from his notes. 

With this encouragement I continued my labours. 

The first volume, now published, contains the story of his 
origin and the earlier periods of his life; childhood, youth, 
and manhood, and ends with his marriage. 

This limit is, I think, very appropriate, the more so as 
Tolstoy himself looks upon his marriage as the beginning of 
a new life. It happens also to have one practical convenience 
its contents make up an ordinary sized volume. 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

In the second volume will be described the period of 
Tolstoy's greatest literary success, family happiness, and 
material welfare, followed by an important crisis which led 
to his birth into a new spiritual life. The period is that of 
the years 1863-1884, corresponding to his age, 35-56. 

In the third and last volume will be presented the life 
which he lives now, and which I hope will continue to our joy 
for many years. 

It is well remarked by one of Tolstoy's biographers that his 
life may be compared to a pyramid with its top downwards 
and the base upwards, growing higher and wider. The bio- 
graphical material is distributed in a corresponding propor- 
tion : there is very little of it during his childhood, but, as we 
approach the present time, its growth becomes enormous. 

Tolstoy's name is so well known that I am relieved of the 
difficult and responsible task of giving his general charac- 
teristics in order to introduce him to the public. It is my sole 
aim and endeavour to adhere to the simple facts. 

August 23, 1905. 



ONEX, NEAB GENEVA, VILLA RUSSE, 
SWITZERLAND. 

P.S. I had already reached the end of my first volume, 
when, in consequence of a temporary relaxation of repressive 
measures in Russia, I received permission to revisit my country. 
I went to Russia accordingly, and have there been able 
adequately to enlarge the biographical material of the first 
volume, thanks to my personal intercourse with Tolstoy him- 
self, and also by reading his diaries and correspondence, for 
which privilege I am deeply grateful to Countess S. Tolstoy. 
She gave me access to the valuable collections of biographical 
materials collected by her and placed in the Historical Museum 
of Moscow, in the room called after Tolstoy's name. 

Had my work been begun under more favourable circum- 
stances, it would probably appear in a different and less 
imperfect shape. But it is impossible to go back and begin 
again from the beginning ; I therefore leave it in its original 
form, introducing only such changes as are rendered necessary 
by the additional material newly collected in Russia. 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

I also leave unchanged the Introduction to the work, as it 
truly represents the conditions under which I have done it. 

Two more words. I hope the reader will understand under 
what peculiar conditions I had to labour and still am labour- 
ing. I am writing the biography not only of a living man, 
but also of one who leads a strenuous and energetic life, and 
hence, as a biographer, I am unable to say the last word or 
give my judgment on the stream of life which is still flowing 
so forcibly. 

I must therefore be content simply to call my work, as 
I most sincerely do, a Collection of those materials for the 
Biography of Leo Tolstoy which are accessible to me. I 
desired not to delay the publication of this volume, which 
is more or less complete in itself, as I thought that its 
publication might indicate to every one a centre to which 
information and reminiscences, as well as any documents 
concerning Tolstoy, could be forwarded, and for all help 
and advice I shall be very grateful. 

P. BIRUKOFF. 

Octobtr 15, 1905. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 

List of materials used for the writing of Volume I. 

FIRST DIVISION. 

(1) A Short Biography, written by Tolstoy at the request of 
N. Strakhof for the Stassulevich publication, Russian Library, 
Issue IX. Count L. Tolstoy, St. Petersburg, 1879. 

(2) How I Came to Believe, L. Tolstoy. Complete Edition of 
Tolstoy's Works, vol. i. Published by The Free Age Press, 
Christchurch, Hants. 

(3) First Reminiscences. A Fragment. Complete Edition of 
Leo Tolstoy's Works, vol. xiii., tenth edition. Moscow, 1897. 

(4) A rough draft of uncorrected notes entrusted to me by 
Tolstoy. 

(5) Private letters of Tolstoy to his friends and relations. 

(6) The Diary of Leo Tolstoy. 

(7) The Memoirs of Countess S. A. Tolstoy. 

(8) Autobiographical Tales, printed in vol. iv. Complete Edition 
of Tolstoy's Works (Articles on Education). 

(9) My Reminiscences, 1848-1889, by A. Fet. Moscow, 1890. 
(Many letters by Tolstoy.) 

(10) 'A Few Words in Connection with the Book, War and 
Peace.' An article by Tolstoy. The Russian Archive, 1868, vol. iii. 

SECOND DIVISION. 

(11) S. A. Bers, Reminiscences of Count L. N. Tolstoy. Smolensk, 
1894. 

(12) Paul Boyer, Chez Tolstoy : Trois jours d Yasnaya Polyana. 
Le Temps, August 27-29, 1901. 

(13) A. E. Golovachof-Panayef, Russian Writers and Artists: 
Reminiscences, 1824-1870. St. Petersburg, 1890. Published by 
Gubinsky. 

(14) D. V. Grigorovich, Literary Reminiscences. Complete 
Works, vol. xii., p. 326. 

(15) G. P. Danilevsky, A Journey to Yasnaya Polyana Histori- 
cal Messenger, March 1886. 

xlx 



xx BIBLIOGRAPHY 

(16) From the Papers of A. V. Druzhinin : Twenty-Five Years. 
Magazine published by the Friendly Society of Needy Writers and 
Scholars. St. Petersburg, 1884. 

(17) N. P. Zagoskin, Count Leo Tolstoy and his Life as a 
Student. Historical Messenger, January 1894. 

(18) Zakharyin (Yakunin), Dr., Countess A. A. Tolstoy: Per- 
sonal Impressions and Reminiscences. Messenger of Europe, June 
1904. 

(19) R. Loewenfeld, Count Leo Tolstoy ; his Life and Works. 
Translated from the German by A. V. Pereligin (with notes by the 
Countess S. A. Tolstoy). Moscow, 1897. 

(20) R. Loewenfeld, Gespraeche mit und ueber Tolstoy. Leipzig. 

(21) Eugene Markof, The Living Soul in School. Thoughts 
and Reminiscences of an old Educationist. Messenger of Europe, 
February 1900. 

(22) M. O. Menshikof, The First Work of Tolstoy. Booklets of 
'Nedelya.' October 1892. 

(23) N. K. Mikhailovsky, Literary Reminiscences and the Con- 
temporary Muddle, vol. i. Published by the Russian Wealth. St. 
Petersburg, 1900. 

(24) ' Opinion of One Hundred and Five Noblemen of the Tula 
Province upon the Question of Allotting Land to Peasants.' The 
Contemporary, 1858, vol. Ixxii. 

(25) N. A. Nekrassof, Four Letters to Count Leo Tolstoy. 
'Niva.' N. 2, 1898. 

(26) L. P. Nikiforof, Biographical Sketch. The Courier, Septem- 
ber 1902. 

(27) Prince D. D. Obolensky, Reminiscences and Characteristics. 
The Russian Archive, 1894. 

(28) J. J. Panayef, Literary Reminiscences, including Letters. St. 
Petersburg, 1888. Published by Martinof. 

(29) S. Plaksin, Count Leo Tolstoy amongst Children. Moscow, 
1903. 

(30) V. A. Poltoratsky, Reminiscences. Historical Messenger, 
June 1893. 

(31) A. Rumyantsef, Letter to D. D. Tito/. The Polar Star, 
iv. Published by Herzen, London, 1857. 

(32) The Sebastopol Song. Related by one of the authors of the 
song. Russian Olden Times, February 1884. 

(33) P. A. Sergeyenko, Horn Leo Tolstoy Lives and Works. 
Moscow, 1898. 

(34) Eugene Schyler, Reminiscences of Count Leo Tolstoy. 
Russian Olden Times, October 1890. Translated from the English 
(Scribners Magazine, 1889). 



BIBLIOGRAPHY xxi 

(35) I. S. Turgenef, First Collection of Letters, 1840-1883. 
Published by the Literary Fund, St. Petersburg, 1885. 

(36) D. Oospensky, Archive Materials for Tolstoy's Biography. 
Russian Thought, September 1903. 

(37) Private letters of Tolstoy's friends and relations about him. 

(38) N. K. Schilder, Episode of the Battle of Austerlitz. Russian 
Olden Times, vol. Ixviii., 1890. 

THIRD DIVISION. 

(39) Eugene Bogoslavsky, Turgenef on Lyof Tolstoy, Seventy-Jive 
Opinions. Tin* is, 1894. 

(40) Wilh. Bode, Tolstoy in Weimar. Der Saemann, Monatschrift, 
Leipzig, September 1905. 

(41) M. I. Venukof, Sebastopol Song. Russian Olden Times, 
February 1875. 

(42) Princess E. G. Volkonsky, The Family of the Princes 
Volkonsky. Materials collected and edited by Princess E. G. 
Volkonsky. St. Petersburg, 1900. 

(43) Prince S. G. Volkonsky (decembrist). Memoirs. Published 
by M. S. Volkonsky. 

(44) Eugene Garshin, Reminiscences of I. S. Turgenef. Historical 
Messenger, November 1883. 

(45) P. D. Draganof, Count L. N. Tolstoy ; as a writer of world- 
wide fame, and the circulation of his works in Russia and abroad. 

(46) A. F. Kony, A Biographical Sketch: 'I. F. Gorbunof 
(preface to the edition of his works). 

(47) V. N. Lyaskovsky, A. S. Khomiakof, His Biography and 
Teaching. The Russian Archive, No. 11, 1896. 

(48) V. N. Nazaryef, Life and Men of the Past Time. Historical 
Messenger, November 1900. 

(49) Eugene Solovyof, L. N. Tolstoy; his Life and Literary 
Activity. Published by Pavlenkof. 

(50) M. A. Yanzhul, To Tolstoy's Biography. Russian Olden 
Times, February 1900. 

Books of Reference, Articles in Newspapers, Notes. 

(51) Brockhaus and EJf'ron. Encyclopaedic Dictionary. 

(52) Yuri Bitoft. Count Tolstoy in Literature and Art. Biblio- 
graphical Indicator. Published by Sytin. Moscow, 1903. 

(53). Russian Literature, Eleventh to Nineteenth Century inclusive, 
by A. V. Mezyer. 

(54) V. Zelinsky, Criticism in Russian Literature of Tolstoy's 
Works. Moscow, 1896. 



INTRODUCTION TO HIS 
REMINISCENCES 

By TOLSTOY 

Reason for writing the Reminiscences Pushkin's verses A quotation from 
Tolstoy's Diary The general review of his life Tolstoy's attitude to his 
novels : Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth. 

MY friend, Paul Birukoff, having undertaken to write my 
biography (for the complete edition of my works), has asked 
me to furnish him with some particulars of my life. 

I very much wished to fulfil his desire, and in my imagi- 
nation I began to compose my autobiography. At first, I 
involuntarily began in the most natural way with only that 
which was good in my life, merely adding to this good side, 
like shade on a picture, its dark, repulsive features. But 
upon examining the events of my life more seriously I saw that 
such an autobiography, though it might not be a direct lie, 
would yet be a lie, owing to the biassed exposure and lighting 
up of the good and the hushing up or smoothing down of the 
evil. Yet when I thought of writing the whole truth without 
concealing anything that was bad in my life, I was shocked 
at the impression which such an autobiography was bound to 
produce. At that time I fell ill, and during the unavoidable 
idleness of an invalid, my thoughts kept continually turning 
to my reminiscences, and dreadful these reminiscences were. 

I experienced with the utmost force what Pushkin says in 
his verses, ' Memory ' : 

' When, for mankind, the weary day grows still, 
And on the City's silent heart there fall 
The half transparent shadows of the night 
With sleep, the sweet reward of daily work 
Then is the time when in the hush I wear 
Through dragging hours of heavy watchfulness : 
When, idle in the dark, most keen I feel 
The stinging serpent of my heart's remorse : 
VOL. I, f 



xxiv INTRODUCTION 

Reflection seethes, and on my o'erwhelmed mind 

Rushes a multitude of woful thoughts, 

While memory, her unending roll unfolds 

In silence, and with sick recoil I read 

The story of my life, and curse myself, 

And bitterly bewail with bitter tears 

But not one woeful line can I wash out I ' 

In the last line I would only make this alteration : instead 
of ' woeful line ' I would say ' shameful line can I wash out/ 
Under this impression I wrote the following in my diary : 

6th January 1903. I am now suffering the torments of hell : 
I am calling to mind all the infamies of my former life, these 
reminiscences do not pass away and they poison my existence. 
Generally people regret that the individuality does not retain 
memory after death. What a happiness that it does not ! 
What an anguish it would be if I remembered in this life all 
the evil, all that is painful to the conscience, committed by me 
in a previous life. And, if one remembers the good, one has to 
remember the evil too. What a happiness that reminiscences 
disappear with death and that there only remains consciousness, 
a consciousness which, as it were, represents the general out- 
come of the good and the evil, like a complex equation reduced 
to its simplest expression: x = & positive or a negative, a great 
or a small quantity. 

Yes, the extinction of memory is a great happiness; with 
memory one could not live a joyful life. As it is, with the 
extinction of memory we enter into life with a clean white page 
upon which we can write afresh good and evil. 

It is true that not all my life was so fearfully bad. That 
character prevailed only for a period of twenty years. It is 
also true that even during that period my life was not the 
uninterrupted evil that it appeared to me during my illness ; 
for even during that period there used to awake in me 
impulses towards good, although they did not last long and 
were soon stifled by unrestrained passions. 

Still these reflections, especially during my illness, clearly 
showed me that my autobiography, as autobiographies are 
generally written, if it passed over in silence all the abomina- 
tion and criminality of my life, would be a lie, and that, when 
a man writes his life, he shouM write the whole a.nd exact 



INTRODUCTION xxv 

truth. Only such an autobiography, however humiliating it 
may be for me to write it, can have a true and fruitful interest 
for the readers. 

Thus recalling my life to mind, i.e. examining it from the 
point of view of the good and evil which I had done, I saw 
that all my long life breaks up into four periods : that 
splendid especially in comparison with what conies after 
that innocent, joyful, poetic period of childhood up to fourteen ; 
then the second, those dreadful twenty years, the period of 
coarse dissoluteness, of service of ambition and vanity, and, 
above all, of sensuousness ; then the third period of eighteen 
years, from my marriage until my spiritual birth, a period 
which, from the worldly point of view, one might call moral, I 
mean that during these eighteen years I lived a regular, honest 
family life, without addicting myself to any vices condemned 
by public opinion, but a period all the interests of which were 
limited to egotistical family cares, to concern for the increase 
of wealth, the attainment of literary success, and the enjoy- 
ment of every kind of pleasure ; and lastly, there is the fourth 
period of twenty years in which I am now living and in which 
I hope to die, and from the standpoint of which I see all the 
significance of my past life, and which I do not desire to alter 
in anything except in those habits of evil which were acquired 
by me in the previous periods. 

Such a history of my life during all these four periods I 
should like to write quite, quite truthfully, if God will give me 
the power and the time. I think that such an autobiography, 
even though very defective, would be more profitable to men 
than all that artistic prattle with which the twelve volumes 
of my works are filled, and to which men of our time attribute 
an undeserved significance. 

And I should now like to do this. I will begin by describing 
the first joyful period of my childhood, which attracst me with 
special force ; then, however ashamed I may be to do so, I will 
also describe, without hiding anything, those dreadful twenty 
years of the following period; then the third period, which 
may be of the least interest of all ; and, finally, the last period 
of my awakening to the truth which has given me the highest 
well-being in life and joyous peace in view of approaching 
death. 

In order not to repeat myself in the description of my 



xxvi INTRODUCTION 

childhood, I have read over again my work under that title, 
and felt sorry that I had written it, so badly, in such an 
insincere, literary style is it written. It could not have been 
otherwise, first, because my aim was to describe, not my 
own history, but that of the companions of my childhood; 
and, secondly, because when writing it I was far from inde- 
pendent in the form of expression, being under the influence of 
two writers who at that time strongly impressed me : Sterne 
(Sentimental Journey) and Topfer (Bibliotheque de mon ancle). 

I am at this day especially displeased with the last two 
parts, Boyhood and Youth, in which, besides the clumsy 
confusion of truth with fiction, there is also insincerity, the 
desire to put forward as good and important that which, at 
the time of writing, I did not regard as good and important 
my democratic tendency. 

I hope that what I shall now write will be better and, above 
all, more profitable to others. 1 

1 From uncorrected draft notes communicated to me and put at my disposal 
by Tolstoy. 



PART I 

THE FAMILY ORIGIN OF 
LEO TOLSTOY 



VOL. I. 



BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

PART I 

THE FAMILY ORIGIN OF LEO TOLSTOY 

CHAPTER I 
THE ANCESTORS OF LEO TOLSTOY 

ON HIS FATHER'S SIDE l 

The Counts Tolstoy-Indris The first Count P. A. Tolstoy His rise, service, 
and fall Restoration of the title of count to his grandson, Andrey 
Ivanovich Tolstoy An episode in the life of A. I. Tolstoy Tolstoy's 
recollections of his grandparents Their characters and mutual relations 
Soap-bubbles Nut- gathering The narrator of fairy tales, Lyof 
Stepanovich Genealogical table The more eminent representatives 
of the Tolstoy family Their family relations to Leo Tolstoy. , 

THE history of the Counts Tolstoy presents a picture of an 
ancient and noble family descending, according to the accounts 
of genealogists, from the good and true man Indris, who came 
from Germany to Tchernigof in 1353 with his two sons and 
a retinue of 3000 men. He was baptized and received the 
name of Leonty; he became the founder of several noble 
families. His great-grandchild, Andrey Kharitonovich, who 
moved from Tchernigof to Moscow and received from the 
Grand Duke Vassili Tyomny the surname of Tolstoy, was 
the founder of the branch known to us as the Tolstoys (in 
which branch Count Lyof Tolstoy was born in the twentieth 
generation from the founder Indris). 

One of his descendants, Peter Andreyevich Tolstoy, became 
a dignitary at the Russian court in 1683, and was afterwards 

1 Wherever I quote the words of Tolstoy from his Reminiscences, I shall 
mention it and put them in inverted commas. P. B. 

3 



4 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

one of the chief actors in the rebellion of the Streltsi. The 
fall of the Tsarevna Sophia caused this Tolstoy abruptly to 
change his attitude and pass over to the Tsar Peter, but the 
latter behaved to him for a long time with coldness, and a 
considerable period passed before Peter Andreyevich enjoyed 
the full confidence of the Tsar. It is said that at their merry 
banquets Tsar Peter delighted to pull the big wig off Peter 
Tolstoy's head, and, tapping him on the bald crown, to repeat : 
* Little head, little head, if you were not so clever, you would 
have parted from your body long ago. 1 

The Tsar's suspicions were not allayed even by the military 
achievements of Peter Tolstoy during the second Azof cam- 
paign (1696). 

In 1697 the Tsar sent * volunteers ' to study in foreign 
countries, and Peter Tolstoy, already a middle-aged man, 
offered himself to go abroad to study naval matters. Two 
years which he spent in Italy gave him an opportunity of 
seeing something of the culture of Western Europe. At the 
end of 1701 Peter Tolstoy was appointed ambassador in 
Constantinople, an important but very difficult post. During 
the complications of 1710-1713 Peter Tolstoy was twice 
confined in the Castle of the Seven Towers, a fact which 
accounts for this castle being represented in the Tolstoy coat- 
of-arms. 

In 1717 Tolstoy rendered an important service to the Tsar, 
and so strengthened his position for all subsequent time. 
Having been sent to Naples, where the Tsarevitch Alexis 
was hiding with his mistress Euphrosyne in the castle of 
St. Elmo, Peter Tolstoy, with the help of the lady, adroitly 
outwitted the Tsarevitch, and by means of threats and false 
promises induced him to return to Russia. For his active 
participation in the subsequent trial and secret execution of 
the Tsarevitch carried out by Peter Tolstoy, with the aid 
of Rumyantsef, 1 Oshakof, and Buturlin, his accomplices, at 
the direction of Peter I. Peter Tolstoy received a present of 
land, and was appointed Chief of the Secret Chamber, where 
there was soon a great deal to be done in consequence of 
the rumours and agitations provoked among the people by 
the fate of Alexis. From that time Peter Tolstoy is con- 

1 Bumyantsef. Letter to D. T. Titof. The Polar Star, IV. Herzen's pub- 
lication, London, 1857. 




COUNT PETER ANDREYEVICH TOLSTOY 
THE FIRST COUNT TOLSTOY 



ANCESTORS OF LEO TOLSTOY 5 

spicuous as one of the most intimate and trusted persons 
about the Emperor. The affair of the Tsarevitch brought 
Peter into favour with the Empress Catherine, and on the 
day of her coronation, May 7, 1724, he was made a Count. 
After the death of Peter I., Tolstoy, together with Menshikof, 
greatly aided Catherine's accession to the throne, and con- 
sequently enjoyed much favour during her reign. But on 
Peter II.'s accession his fall ensued. In spite of his advanced 
age he was eighty-two years old he was exiled to the Solo- 
vetsky Convent, where, however, he did not live long. He 
died in 1729. 

We still possess the diary of Peter Tolstoy's journey abroad 
in 1697-1699, a characteristic exhibition of the impression 
made on men of his period by their acquaintance with 
Western Europe. Besides this, in 1706 Peter Tolstoy wrote 
a detailed description of the Black Sea. There also exist two 
translations he made : Ovid's Metamorphoses, and Administra- 
tion of the Turkish Empire. 

Peter Tolstoy had a son, Ivan Petrovich, who was himself 
deprived of his office, that of President of the Court, at the 
same time as his father, and was exiled to the same convent, 
where he died soon after him. 

It was not till May 26, 1760, when the Empress Elisabeth 
Petrovna was already on the throne, that the descendants of 
Peter Andreyevich were restored to the rank of counts in the 
person of Peter's grandson, Andrey Ivanovich, the great-grand- 
father of Lyof Tolstoy. 

* I heard from my aunt the following story about Andrey 
Ivanovich, who whilst very young married the Princess 
Schetinin. For some reason or other his wife had to go to 
a ball without her husband. Having started on her way, 
probably in a covered sledge from which the seat had been 
removed, in order that her high headgear should not be 
injured, the young countess, perhaps seventeen years old, 
remembered that she had not said good-bye to her husband, 
and returned home. 

' When she arrived, she found him in tears ; he was so much 
distressed at his wife's leaving the house without bidding him 
good-bye. 1 1 

1 Note added by Tolstoy when revising the MS. of this work. 



6 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

In his Reminiscences Tolstoy speaks of his grandfather and 
grandmother on his father's side as follows : 

' My grandmother, Pelageya Nicolayevna, was the daughter 
of the blind Prince Nicolay Ivanovich Gorchakof, who had 
amassed a large fortune. As far as I can form an idea of her 
character, she was not very intelligent, poorly educated, like 
all at that time, she knew French better than Russian, (and to 
this her education was limited) and exceedingly spoilt, first 
by her father, then by her husband, and lastly in my time by 
her son. Besides this, as a daughter of the elder branch, she 
enjoyed great regard from all the Gorchakofs : from the former 
Minister of War, Nicolay Ivanovich, from Audrey Ivanovich 
and the sons of Dmitri Petrovich, the freethinker, Peter, Sergey 
and Michael of Sebastopol. 

' My grandfather, Ilya Andreyevich, her husband, was, accord- 
ing to my view of him, a man of limited intelligence, gentle in 
manner, merry, and not only generous, but carelessly extrava- 
gant, and above all trustful. In his estate, Polyani, in the 
Belyefski district not Yasnaya Polyana, but Polyani in- 
cessant fetes, theatrical performances, balls, banquets, and 
excursions were kept up, which, largely owing to my grand- 
father's tendency to play for high stakes at lomber and whist 
without knowing the game, and his readiness either to give 
or lend to any one who asked, both in loan and donation, and 
above all with the speculations and monopolies he used to 
start, resulted in his wife's large estate being so involved in 
debts, that at last there was no means of livelihood, and my 
grandfather had to procure the post of governor in Kazan, 
which he did easily owing to his connections. 

' My grandfather, as I have been told, would not accept 
bribes, except from wine merchants, though it was then a 
universal custom, and he was angry when any were offered 
to him. But my grandmother, as I am informed, accepted 
presents unknown to her husband. 

'In Kazan, my grandmother gave her youngest daughter 
Pelageya in marriage to Yushkof ; the eldest, Alexandra, while 
yet in St. Petersburg, had married Count Osten-Saken. 

' After the death of her husband in Kazan, and the marriage 
of my father, my grandmother settled down with my father in 
Yasnaya Polyana, and here I knew her as an old woman, and 
well remember her. 



HIS GRANDPARENTS 7 

' My grandmother passionately loved my father and us, her 
grandchildren, and amused herself with us. She was fond of 
my aunts, but I think she did not quite love my mother ; she 
considered her unworthy of my father, and was jealous of her 
in regard to him. With the servants she could not be exact- 
ing, because all knew she was the first person in the house, and 
tried to please her ; but with her maid, Gasha, she gave herself 
up to her caprices and tormented her, calling her "You, my 
dear,' 1 and demanding of her what she had not asked for, and 
in every way worrying her. Strange to say, Gasha or Agafia 
Michaelovna, 1 whom I knew well, became infected with my 
grandmother's capricious ways, and with her little daughter, 
with her cat, and in general with all those beings with whom 
she could be exacting, was as capricious as my grandmother 
was with herself. 

' My earliest reminiscences of my grandmother, before our 
removal to Moscow and our life there, amount to three strong 
impressions concerning her. One was how my grandmother 
washed, and with some kind of special soap produced on her 
hands wonderful bubbles, which, so it seemed to me, she 
alone could produce. We used to be purposely brought to 
her probably our delight and wonder at her soap-bubbles 
amused her in order to see how she washed. I remember 
the white jacket, petticoat, white aged hands, and the enor- 
mous bubbles rising on them, and her satisfied, smiling, white 
face. 

'The second recollection is how she was drawn out, my 
father's valets acting as horses, in the yellow cabriolet on 
springs in which we used to go for drives with our tutor, 
Feodor Ivanovich, into the small coppice for gathering nuts, 
of which there was a specially great quantity that year. I 
remember the dense thicket of hazel trees into which, thrusting 
aside and breaking the branches, Petrusha and Matyusha, the 
house valets, dragged the cabriolet with my grandmother, 
how they pulled down to her branches with clusters of ripe 
nuts, sometimes dropping off, how my grandmother herself 
gathered them into a bag, and how we either ourselves bent 
down branches or else were astonished by the strength of Feodor 
Ivanovich, who bent down thick stems, while we gathered 

1 Agafia Michaelovna died an old woman a few years ago in Yasnaya 
Polyana, where she had been living in retirement for many years. 



8 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

nuts on all sides, and always noticed that there yet remained 
nuts ungathered by us when Feodor Ivanovich let go the stems, 
and the bushes slowly, catching in one another, straightened 
up again. I remember how hot it was in the open spaces, 
how pleasantly fresh in the shade, how one breathed the 
sharp odour of the hazel-tree foliage, how the nuts cracked 
on all sides under the teeth of the girls who were with us, 
and how we, without ceasing, chewed the fresh, full, white 
kernels. 

' We gathered the nuts into our pockets, into the skirts of 
our jackets, into the cabriolet, and our grandmother took them 
from us and praised us. How we came home, and what 
happened after, I do not remember. I remember only that 
grandmother and the hazel trees, the peculiar odour of the 
foliage of the hazel bushes, the valets, the yellow cabriolet, 
and the sun were blended into one joyful impression. It 
seemed to me that, as the soap-bubbles could be produced 
only by my grandmother, so also the wood, the nuts, the sun 
could only be in connection with my grandmother in her yellow 
cabriolet drawn by Petrusha and Matyusha. 

* But the strongest impression connected with my grand- 
mother was a night passed in her bedroom with Lyof 
Stepanovich. Lyof Stepanovich was a blind story-teller, (he 
was already an old man when I came to know him,) the sur- 
vival of ancient luxury, the luxury of my grandfather. He 
was bought merely for the purpose of narrating stories, which, 
owing to the extraordinary memory peculiar to blind people, 
he could re-tell word for word after they had been twice read 
to him. 

' He lived somewhere in the house, and during the whole day 
he was not seen. But in the evenings he came up into my 
grand mother's bedroom (this bedroom was a low little room 
into which one had to enter up two steps), and he seated him- 
self on a low window ledge, where they used to bring him 
supper from the master's table. Here he waited for my grand- 
mother, who might with impunity perform her night toilet in 
the presence of a blind man. On the day when it was my turn 
to sleep in my grandmother's bedroom, Lyof Stepanovich, with 
his white eyes, clad in a long blue coat with puffs on the 
shoulders, was already sitting on the window ledge having his 
supper. I don't remember where my grandmother undressed, 



COUNT ILYA ANDREYEVICH TOLSTOY 
LEO TOLSTOY'S PATERNAL GRANDFATHER 



HIS GRANDPARENTS 9 

whether in this room or another, or how I was put to bed, I 
remember only the moment when the candle was put out and 
there remained only a little light in front of the gilded ikons, 
and my grandmother, that same wonderful grandmother who 
produced the extraordinary soap-bubbles, all white, clothed in 
white, lying on white, and covered with white, in her white 
night-cap, lay high on the cushions, and from the window was 
heard the even quiet voice of Lyof Stepanovich. " Will it 
please you for me to continue ? " " Yes, continue. 11 " ' Dearest 
sister, 1 she said," recommenced Lyof Stepanovich, with his quiet, 
even, aged voice, " ' tell us one of those most interesting stories 
which you know so well how to narrate. 1 ' Willingly, 1 answered 
Shaheresada, ' would I relate the remarkable history of Prince 
Kamaralzaman, if our lord will express his consent. 1 Having 
received the consent of the Sultan, Shaheresada began thus : 
A certain powerful king had an only son "... and, evidently 
word for word, according to the book, Lyof Stepanovich began 
the history of Kamaralzaman. I did not listen, I did not 
understand what he said, so absorbed was I by the mysterious 
appearance of the white grandmother, by her swaying shadow 
on the wall, and the appearance of the old man with white 
eyes whom I could not now see, but whom I realised as sitting 
immovably on the window ledge, and who was saying with 
a slow voice some strange words, which seemed to me very 
solemn as they alone resounded through the darkness of the 
little room lighted by the trembling of the image lamp. I 
probably immediately fell asleep, for I remember nothing 
further, and in the morning I was again astonished and 
enraptured by the soap-bubbles which my grandmother when 
washing produced on her hands. 

' According to Marie's recollections, the blind Lyof Stepano- 
vich's sense of hearing was so perfect that he could distinctly 
hear mice running about and could tell in which direction 
they were going. In grandmother's room one of the special 
attractions for the mice was the oil used for the image-lamp, 
which they drank up. At night while telling stories he would 
say, without changing his tone of voice : " There, your 
excellency, a little mouse has just run to the image-lamp to 
get at the oil. 11 After that he would go on again with his 
story- telling in the same monotone. 1 

The following genealogical table gives the reader a view 



10 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

of the nearest ancestors and relations of Lyof Nicolayevich 
Tolstoy : 

THE COUNTS TOLSTOY. 

Number of Generations 
from ' Indris.' 

15 PETEK ANDEEYEVICH TOLSTOY, the first Count (died 1729). 

16 IVAN PETEOVICH (died 1728). 

17 ANDEEY IVANOVICH (died 1803). 

18 ILYA ANDREYEVICH, Governor of Kazan (died 1820). 

19 ALEXANDRA, married to Count Osten-Saken. NICOLAY (died 

1837). PELAGEYA, married V. P. Yushkof. ILYA (died 
childless). 

20 NICOLAY (born 1823). SERGEY (born 1826). DMITRI (born 

1827). LYOF (born 1828). MARIE (born 1830). 1 

The Counts Tolstoy are known in many branches of social 
activity. It would probably interest the reader to know the 
degree of relationship which some of these bear to Tolstoy. 
For example, let us take Feodor Petrovich Tolstoy, the well- 
known artist, medallist, and vice-president of the Imperial 
Academy of Arts, his nephew the poet, Alexey Konstantinovich 
Tolstoy, and the ex-minister Dmitri Andreyevich Tolstoy, well 
known for his reactionary measures. These three members of 
the Tolstoy family were distantly related to our Tolstoy, their 
common ancestor being Ivan Petrovich Tolstoy, son of the first 
Count Tolstoy, Peter Andreyevich, who died with his father in 
exile at the Solovetsky Convent. 2 

I ought here to mention Theodore Tolstoy, an original man, 
called the American. He was known for his very unusual 
adventures, and the following words in Griboyedofs comedy 
called * Come to Grief through being too Clever' refer to him : 
'Exiled to Kamchatka he returned an Aleoute. 1 Tolstoy 
speaks of him in his reminiscences of his childhood, and it 
was his individuality which partly suggested the character of 
Dolokhof in War and Peace. He was Tolstoy's first cousin 
once removed. 

1 " Count L. N. Tolstoy and his University Life." N. P. Zagoskin, Jstoricheski 
Vestnik, Jan. 1894, p. 81. 

2 Information given by Lyof Tolstoy. See also Brockhaus and Effron's 
Encyclopaedia, vol. xxxiii. p. 462. 



CHAPTER II 

THE ANCESTORS OF LEO TOLSTOY ON HIS 
MOTHER'S SIDE 

The Princes Volkonsky The origin of the family Its more important 
representatives Prince Sergey Feodorovich Volkonsky Legend about 
the ikon Prince N. S. Volkonsky The Bleak Hills Tolstoy's recollec- 
tions of his grandfather Volkonsky The offer of Potemkin The 
governorship in Archangel Nicolay Sergeyevich as landowner and as 
man Princess V. A. Volkonsky Tolstoy's reminiscences of her Prince 
Sergey Grigoryevich Volkonsky, the Decembrist Prince Nicolay 
Grigoryevich Volkonsky-Repnin The battle of Austerlitz. 

THE Princes Volkonsky trace their descent from Rurik. 

Since the days of Prince Volkonsky (Tolstoy's grandfather) 
the genealogical tree of the Princes Volkonsky, painted in oil 
colours, has been preserved l at Yasnaya Polyana. In this the 
founder of the line, St. Michael, Prince of Tchernigov, is 
represented as holding in his hand a tree whose branches 
exhibit an enumeration of his descendants. 

At the beginning of the fourteenth century Prince Ivan 
Turyevich, in the thirteenth generation from Rurik, had 
received the Volkonsky property, situated on the Volkona; 
this river flows through the present province of Kaluga and 
to some extent through Tula. Hence the family was known 
as that of the Princes Volkonsky. 2 

His son, Feodor Ivanovich, was killed in the battle of 
Mamai in 1380. 

Among other ancestors of Tolstoy we may mention his 
great-grandfather, Prince Sergey Feodorovich Volkonsky, who 
is the hero of the following legend : 

'The prince took part in the seven years 1 war as Major- 
General. During the campaign his wife dreamed that a voice 
commanded her to have a small ikon painted, showing on one 

1 This picture has been destroyed, according to latest information. 
3 The Family of the Princes Volkonsky, p. 7. 



12 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

side the source of life and on the other Nicolay the Thau- 
maturgist, and to send it to her husband. She selected a 
wooden plate, on which she ordered that the ikon should be 
painted, and this she sent to Prince Sergey by the hands of 
Field -Marshal Apraxin. The same day Sergey received by 
the courier an order to go out in search of the enemy; and 
having appealed for God's help, he put on the sacred image. 
In a cavalry attack a bullet struck him on the breast, but it 
knocked against the ikon and did not hurt him, and in this 
way the ikon saved his life. It was treasured in later years 
by his younger son, Nicolay Sergey evich. Prince Sergey 
Feodorovich died March 10, 1784.' 1 

Tolstoy was no doubt acquainted with this legend, and made 
use of it in War and Peace to illustrate the character of the 
devout princess, Marie Bolkonsky, as it is made to appear in 
an incident represented as occurring before Prince Audrey's 
departure for the war. The reader will remember that the 
princess persuaded her brother to wear the image, handing 
it to Prince Andrey with the words : * You may think 
what you like, but do this for my sake. Please do it ! The 
father of my father, our grandfather, wore it during all his 
wars. . . . <>2 

We see here artistic truth interwoven with historical, and 
if the latter gives the former an air of truthfulness, so it 
receives from it in return that touch of human nature which 
makes all the characters of War and Peace so lifelike and so 
irresistibly soul-stirring. 

The younger son of Sergey Feodorovich, Nicolay Sergey e- 
vich, was Tolstoy's grandfather on his mother's side. What 
we learn about him from the genealogy is as follows : 

' Nicolay Sergeyevich, an infantry general, youngest son of 
Sergey Feodorovich and Princess Marie Dmitryevna, nee 
Chaadaef, was born March 30, 1753. In 1780 he was in 
the suite of the Empress Catherine II. when she was in 
Mogilef, and was present at her first interview with the 
Emperor Joseph II. In 1786 he accompanied the Empress 
to Taurida. On the occasion of the wedding of the heredi- 
tary prince, afterwards King Frederick William III., he was 
appointed special envoy to Berlin. He died on February 8, 

1 The Family of the Princes Volkonsky, p. 697. 

2 War and Peace, vol. i. p. 167, tenth edition. 




PRINCE NICOLAS SERGEYEVICH VOLKONSKY 
LEO TOLSTOY'S MATERNAL GRANDFATHER 



PRINCE N. S. VOLKONSKY 13 

1821, on his estate, where he lived throughout those last years 
of his life which have been immortalised by his grandson in 
his novel War and Peace. His remains rest in the Troitsko- 
Sergey monastery.'' l 

In his Reminiscences Tolstoy speaks of his maternal grand- 
father as follows : 

' As for my grandfather, I know that having attained the high 
position of Commander-in-chief during the reign of Catherine, 
he suddenly lost it by refusing to marry Potemkin's niece and 
mistress, Varenka Engelhardt. To Potemkin's suggestion he an- 
swered : " What makes him think that I'll marry his strumpet ? " 

' In consequence of this exclamation, not only was his career 
checked, but he was nominated Governor of Archangel, where 
he remained, I believe, until Paul's accession, when he retired ; 
and having after that married Princess Catherine Trubetskoy, 
he settled down in his estate, Yasnaya Polyana, which he had 
inherited from his father, Sergey Feodorovich. 

' The Princess Catherine died early, leaving my grandfather 
an only daughter, and with this dearly beloved child and her 
friend, a Frenchwoman, he lived until his death about 1821. 
He was regarded as a very exacting master, but I never heard 
instances of his cruelty or of his inflicting the severe punish- 
ments which were usual at that time. I believe that such 
cases did occur on his estate, but that the enthusiastic respect 
for his character and intelligence was so great amongst the 
servants and the peasants of his time whom I have often 
questioned about him, that although I have heard condemna- 
tion of my father, I heard only praises of my grandfather's 
intelligence, business capacities and interest in the welfare of the 
peasants and of his enormous household. He erected splendid 
accommodation for his servants, and took care that they should 
always be not only well fed, but also well dressed and happy. On 
fete days he arranged recreations for them, swings, dancing, &c. 

( Like every intelligent landowner of that time, he was con- 
cerned with the welfare of the peasants, and they prospered, 
the more so that my grandfather's high position, inspiring 
respect as it did in the police and local authorities, exempted 
them from oppression from this quarter. 

' He probably possessed refined aesthetic feeling. All his 
buildings were not only durable and commodious, but also 

1 The Family of the Princes Volkon$Jcy, p. 707. 



14 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

of considerable beauty ; and these last words would apply also 
to the park which he laid out in front of the house. He 
probably was very fond of music, for he kept a small but 
excellent orchestra, merely for himself and my mother. I 
still remember an enormous elm-tree which grew near the 
avenue of limes and was surrounded by benches with stands 
for the musicians. In the mornings he used to walk in the 
avenue and listen to the music. He could not bear sport, and 
he loved flowers and hothouse plants. 

'A strange fate brought him into contact with that same 
Varenka Engelhardt whom he had refused to marry, for which re- 
fusal he had suffered during his service. Varenka married Prince 
Sergey Golitsin, who consequently received various promotions, 
decorations, and rewards. With this Sergey Golitsin and his 
family, consequently also with Varvara Vassilyevna (Varenka), 
my grandfather entered into so close a friendship that my 
mother was betrothed in her childhood to one of Golitsin's 
ten sons, and the two old princes exchanged portrait-galleries 
(that is, of course, copies made by serf-artists). These Golitsin 
portraits are all still in our house, amongst them Prince Sergey 
Golitsin wearing the riband of St. Andrew, and the red-haired 
fat Varvara Vassilyevna dressed as a high lady of the Court. 
The alliance, however, was not destined to be concluded : " My 
mother's betrothed, Lyof Golitsin, 1 died from fever before the 
marriage. 11 1 2 

In going through the genealogy of the Princes Volkonsky 
one comes across another interesting personage, a cousin of 
Tolstoy's mother, the Princess Varvara Alexandrovna Volkonsky, 
a woman who saw much that went on in the house of Tolstoy^ 
grandfather. We find the following said about her : 

* The Princess Varvara Alexandrovna Volkonsky, daughter of 
Prince Alexander Sergeyevich, after her mother's death fre- 
quently made long visits with her father to the house of his 
brother Nicolay Sergeyevich. Here she met the persons 

1 An aunt of mine told me that this Golitsin's name was Leo, but this is 
evidently a mistake, as Sergey Golitsin had no son Leo. I therefore think 
that the story about my mother being betrothed to one of the Golitsins is 
correct, as well as that he died; but that the name of Leo is not correct. 
(Note by Leo Tolstoy.) 

2 From Tolstoy's uncorrected draft Reminiscences sent to me and put at my 
disposal by himself. 



PRINCESS V. A. VOLKONSKY 15 

described by Count Leo Tolstoy in his novel War and 
Peace, and many details relating to them and to the events 
of their time remained fresh in her memory in her old age. 
Towards the close of her life she moved into a neighbouring 
village, Sogalevo, which also belonged to her parents. Here 
she had a house built for herself close to the church, and in 
the society of a few old women house servants, who did not 
care to part from her, she passed her life there, full of memo- 
ries of the past, reading and re-reading War and Peace. Long 
forgotten by others, the aged princess remained an object of 
respect and devotion to the local peasants. To one casual 
visitor, who called on her in 1876, she related with delight 
how peasants of villages long before sold and handed over to 
strangers, had nevertheless on her ninetieth birthday presented 
her with a sack of flour and a silver rouble, while the women 
brought her a rouble, fowls, and some linen. She told this not 
only with a feeling of gratitude, but also with pride, since it 
was a proof that a kindly recollection of her parents was still 
cherished among the peasants.' 1 

4 1 knew the dear old lady, my mother's cousin. I made her 
acquaintance when living in Moscow in the fifties. Tired of 
the dissipated worldly life I was then leading in Moscow, I 
went to stay with her on her little estate in the district of Klin, 
and passed a few weeks there. She embroidered, managed her 
household work in her little farm, treated me to sour cabbage, 
cream cheese, and fruit marmalades, such as are only made by 
housewives on such small estates ; and she told me about old 
times, about my mother, my grandfather, and the four corona- 
tions at which she had been present. During my stay with 
her I wrote the Three Deaths. 

' And this visit has remained one of the pure, bright remi- 
niscences of my life. 1 

Let us finally mention one more personality of the Volkonsky 
family who, though not an ancestor of Tolstoy's in the direct 
line, is yet one of his kinsmen, Prince Sergey Grigoryevich 
Volkonsky, the Decembrist. He is a second cousin of Tolstoy's 
mother and a grandson of Simon Feodorovich Volkonsky, 
brother of Prince Sergey Feodorovich, mentioned above. 

The prince was born in 1788, took part in the campaign of 
1812, and afterwards joined the southern secret society; and 

1 The Family of the Princet Volkonsky, p. 720. 



16 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

for participation in the conspiracy of the Decembrists he was 
exiled to Eastern Siberia, where he remained for thirty years ; 
the earlier years he spent doing hard labour in irons, but 
afterwards he lived there in Siberia as a settler. 1 The journey 
and arrival of his wife, Princess Marie Nicolayevna, are described 
in the well-known poem of Nekrassof. 

In 1801 his brother Prince Nicolay Grigoryevich Volkonsky 
took by order of the Emperor Alexander I. the surname of 
Repnin, that of his grandfather on his mother's side, whose 
family in the direct line had died out. ' Let not the family of 
the princes Repnin, 1 said the ukase, ' which so gloriously served 
its country, become extinct with the death of the last of them, 
but let it be renewed, and remain with its name and example never 
to be obliterated in the remembrance of the Russian nobility." 1 

Prince Nicolay Grigoryevich took part in all the campaigns 
against Napoleon and in the national war. For his share in the 
battle of Austerlitz he was rewarded with St. George's Order 
of the fourth class. In the battle he commanded a squadron 
and took part in the well-known attack of the cavalry guards 
described in War and Peace, in which he was wounded in the 
head and otherwise severely hurt. The French bore him from 
the battlefield and carried him to the hospital tent. On hear- 
ing of this, Napoleon ordered that he should be brought on 
the following day to his quarters, and out of respect for his 
valour he offered to set him free with all the officers under his 
command, on the sole condition that they should not take 
part in the war for two years. Nicolay Grigoryevich thanked 
Napoleon for the offer, but said that ' he had given his oath to 
serve his emperor to the last drop of his blood, and therefore 
could not accept the proposal.' 

Shortly afterwards, on his return from captivity, he was 
given leave of absence out of consideration for his wounds. 2 

In the Russian periodical entitled Olden Times of 1890, 
p. 209, appears a letter from Prince Repnin to Michailovsky- 
Danilevsky, a veteran of the national war. In this letter 
Prince Repnin relates in detail the episode described in War 
and Peace, and quotes the actual words of his conversation 
with Napoleon. The first part of this conversation is exactly 
reproduced in the novel War and Peace. 

1 The Memoirs of S. G. Volkonsky (the Decembrist). 
3 The Family of the Princes Volkonsky, pp. 704, 714, 715. 




Information about his mother in Tolstoy's Reminiscences Her moral per- 
sonality Her gentleness and toleration Her attitude to his father 
Mile. Enissienne Her girl friends Her love for the elder son and for 
Leo The general character of the family during the mother's lifetime 
Reminiscences of the father Military service Captivity Civil Service 
Marriage Management of the estate General character and appear- 
ance of his father Family life List of services An episode in his 
father's life Autobiographical importance of Childhood, Boyhood, Youth, 
and War and Peace. 

IN speaking of his parents, Tolstoy's Reminiscences follow a 
certain chronological order. First he tells us of the faintly 
seen features of his mother, supplementing his description by 
accounts furnished by surviving members of her family; after 
this he gives his fresher and more exact recollections of his 
father and of his aunts. We propose to follow his example, 
endeavouring to change as little as possible the order of his 
narrative. In giving his account of his father and mother we 
have omitted only what he says of his grandfather Volkonsky, 
which we have already quoted in the chapter dealing with the 
ancestors. 

' My mother I do not at all remember. I was a year and 
a half old when she died. Owing to some strange chance no 
portrait whatever of her has been preserved, so that, as a real 
physical being, I cannot represent her to myself. I am in a 
sense glad of this, for in my conception of her there is only 
her spiritual figure, and all that I know about her is beautiful, 
and I think this is so, not only because all who spoke to me of 
my mother tried to say only what was good, but because there 
was actually very much of this good in her. 

'However, not only my mother, but also all those who 
surrounded my infancy, from my father to the coachman, 
appear to me as exceptionally good people. Probably my 
pure loving feeling, like a bright ray, disclosed to me in 

voi<. i, 17 S 



18 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

people their best qualities (such always exist) ; when all these 
people seemed to me exceptionally good, I was much nearer 
truth than when I saw only their defects. 

' My mother was not handsome. She was very well educated 
for her time. Besides Russian, which, contrary to the national 
illiterateness then current, she wrote correctly, she knew four 
other languages, French, German, English, and Italian, and 
was probably sensitive to art. She played well on the piano, 
and her friends have told me that she was a great hand at 
narrating most attractive tales invented at the moment. But 
the most valuable quality in her was that she was, according 
to the words of the servants, although hot-tempered, yet self- 
restrained. " She would get quite red in the face, even cry, 11 
her maid told me, " but would never say a rude word. 11 Indeed 
she did not know such words. 

1 1 have preserved several of her letters to my father and 
aunts, and her diary concerning the conduct of Nikolenka (my 
eldest brother), who was six years old when she died, and I 
think resembled her more than the rest of us. They both 
possessed a feature very dear to me, which I infer from my 
mother's letters, but personally witnessed in my brother: their 
indifference to the opinion of others, and their modesty in their 
endeavours to conceal those mental, educational, and moral 
advantages which they had in comparison with others. They 
were, as it were, ashamed of these advantages. 

*I well knew these qualities in my brother, about whom 
Turgenef very correctly remarked that he did not possess 
those faults which are necessary in order to become a great 
writer. 

* I remember once how a very silly and bad man, an adjutant 
of the governor, when out shooting with him, ridiculed him in 
my presence, and how my brother smiled good-humouredly, 
evidently greatly relishing the position. 

'I remark the same feature in my mother's letters. She 
evidently stood on a higher spiritual level than my father 
and his family, with the exception, perhaps, of Tatiana 
Yergolsky, with whom I passed half my life, and who was 
a woman remarkable for her moral qualities. 

'Besides this, they both had yet another feature which 
I believe contributed to their indifference to the judgment 
of men it was that they never condemned any one. This 




LEO TOLSTOY'S MOTHER AND HER SISTER 



LEO TOLSTOY'S MOTHER 19 

I know most certainly about my brother, with whom I lived 
half my life. The utmost extreme expression of his negative 
relation to a man consisted with my brother in good-natured 
humour and a similar smile. I observe the same in my 
mother's letters, and have heard of it from those who 
knew her. 

' In the Lives of the Saints, by Dmitri Rostovsky. there is 
a short narrative which has always exceedingly touched me, 
of the life of a certain monk who had, to the knowledge of all 
his brethren, many faults, and, notwithstanding this, appeared 
to an old monk in a dream amongst the saints in a place of 
honour. The astonished old man asked : " How could this 
monk, so unrestrained in many respects, deserve such a 
reward ? " The answer was : " He never condemned any one." 

' If such rewards did exist, I think that my brother and my 
mother would have received them. 

'A third feature which distinguishes my mother amongst 
her circle was her truthfulness and the simple tone of her 
letters. At that time the expression of exaggerated feelings 
was especially cultivated in letters: "Incomparable, divine, 
the joy of my life, unutterably precious," &c., were the most 
usual epithets between friends, and the more inflated the less 
sincere. 

4 This feature, although not in a strong degree, is noticeable 
in my father's letters. He writes : " Ma bien douce amie, je ne 
pense qu'au bonheur d'etre aupr&s de toi." This could hardly be 
quite sincere. Whereas she addresses her letters invariably in 
the same way, " Mon bon ami," and in one of her letters she 
frankly says : " Le temps me parait long sans toi, quoiqu'a dire 
vrai, nous ne jouissons pas beaucoup de ta societe quand tu es 
ici" and she always subscribes herself in the same way : " Ta 
devouee Marie."" 

' My mother passed her childhood partly in Moscow, partly in 
the country with a clever and talented, though proud man, my 
grandfather Volkonsky. I have been told that my mother 
loved me very much, and called me " Mon petit Benjamin" 

' I think that her love for her deceased betrothed, precisely 
because it was terminated by death, was that poetic love which 
girls feel only once. Her marriage with my father was arranged 
by her relatives and my father's. She was a rich orphan, no 
longer young, whereas my father was a merry, brilliant young 



20 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

man with name and connections, but the family fortune was 
much impaired by my grandfather Tolstoy indeed my father 
even refused to accept the heritage. I think that my mother 
loved my father, but more because he was her husband and 
especially as he was the father of her children ; she was never 
in love with him. Of real loves she had, as I understand, 
experienced three or four : there was her love to her deceased 
betrothed, then a passionate friendship for a Frenchwoman, 
Mile. Enissienne, about which I heard from my aunts and 
which I believe was terminated by a disillusionment. Mile. 
Enissienne married a cousin of my mother's, Prince Michael 
Volkonsky, the grandfather of the present-day writer of that 
name. 

'This is what my mother writes about her friendship with 
this lady. She is referring to two girls who were living in her 
house : 

* " I get on very well with both of them. I do some music, I 
laugh and joke with the one, and I talk sentiment and con- 
demn the frivolous world with the other. I am passionately 
loved by both and am the confidante of each ; I reconcile them 
when they have quarrelled, for there never was friendship more 
quarrelsome and funny to witness than theirs ; it is a series of 
sulks, tears, reconciliations, and reproaches, and then of trans- 
ports of affection ; in a word, I see as in a mirror the exalted and 
romantic friendship which had animated and troubled my life 
during several years. I contemplate them with an indefinable 
feeling, sometimes I envy them their illusion which I no longer 
possess, but of which I know the sweetness. Let us ask frankly 
whether the solid and real happiness of ripe years is worth the 
charming illusions of youth, when everything is embellished by 
the all-powerful imagination. And sometimes I smile at their 
childishness." 

' Her third strong feeling, perhaps the most passionate, was 
her love for my eldest brother Koko, the diary of whose conduct 
she kept in Russian putting down in it his bad conduct and 
then read to him. From this diary one can see that while she 
had a passionate desire to do all that was possible towards 
giving Koko the best education, she had a very indefinite idea 
as to what was necessary for this purpose. Thus, for instance, 
she rebukes him for being too sensitive and being moved to 
tears at the sight of animals suffering. A man, according to 



LEO TOLSTOY'S MOTHER 21 

her ideas, should be firm. Another fault which she endeavours 
to correct in him is that he is absorbed in his thoughts, and 
instead of " Ban soir" or " Bon jour" says to his grandmother, 
" Je vous remercie" 

1 The fourth strong feeling which did perhaps exist, as my 
aunts told me I earnestly hope that it did exist was her love 
for me, which took the place of her love for Koko, who at the 
time of my birth had already detached himself from his mother 
and been transferred into male hands. It was a necessity for 
her to love what was not herself, and one love took the place of 
another. 

' Such was the figure of my mother in my imagination. She 
appeared to me a creature so elevated, pure, and spiritual that 
often in the middle period of my life, during my struggle with 
overwhelming temptations, I prayed to her soul, begging her 
to aid me, and this prayer always helped me much. 

* My mother's life in her father's family was a very good and 
happy one, as I may conclude from letters and stories. 

' My father's household consisted of his mother, an old lady ; 
of her daughter, my aunt Countess Alexandra Osten-Saken, 
and her ward Pashenka ; of another aunt, as we used to call 
her, although she was a very distant relative, Tatiana Yergolsky, 
who had been educated in my grandfather's house and had 
passed all her later life in my father's ; and the tutor, Feodor 
Ivanovich Resselier, fairly correctly described by me in Child- 
hood. We were five children Nicolay, Sergey, Dmitri, myself, 
the youngest boy, and our younger sister Mashenka, at whose 
birth my mother died. My mother's very short married life 
I think it lasted not more than nine years was very full and 
adorned by every one's love to her and hers to every one who 
lived with her. Judging by the letters, I see that she lived at 
that time in great solitude. Scarcely any one visited Yasnaya 
Polyana except our intimate friends the Ogarefs and some 
relatives who, if casually travelling along the high-road, might 
look in upon them. 

' My mother's life was passed in occupations with the chil- 
dren, in reading novels aloud of an evening to my grandmother, 
and in serious readings, such as JEmile, by Rousseau, and dis- 
cussions about what had been read ; in playing the piano, 
teaching Italian to one of her aunts, walks and household work. 
In all families there are periods when illness and death are yet 



unknown, and the members live peacefully. Such a period, it 
seems to me, my mother was living through in her husband's 
family until her death. No one died, no one was seriously ill, 
my father's disordered affairs were improving. All were healthy, 
happy, and friendly. My father amused every one with his 
stories and jokes. I did not witness that time. At the time 
with which my remembrances begin, my mother's death had 
already laid its seal upon the life of our family. 

' All this I have described from what I have heard and from 
letters. Now I shall begin about what I have myself ex- 
perienced and remember. I shall not speak about the vague, 
indistinct recollections of infancy, in which one cannot yet 
distinguish reality from dreamland. I will commence with 
what I clearly remember, with the circumstances and the 
persons that surrounded me from my first years. The first 
place amongst them is occupied, of course, by my father, 
if not owing to his influence upon me, yet from my feeling 
towards him. 

' My father from his early years had remained his parents' 
only son. His younger brother, Ilenka, was injured, became 
a cripple, and died in childhood. In the year 1812, my father 
was seventeen years old, and, notwithstanding the horror and 
fear and pleading of his parents, he entered the military service. 
At that time Prince Nicolay Gorchakof, a near relative of 
my grandmother, Princess Gorchakof, was minister of war, his 
brother, Andrew, was a general in command of troops in the 
field, and my father was attached to him as adjutant. He went 
through the campaigns of the years '13 and '1 4, and in '14, having 
somewhere in Germany been despatched as a courier, he was 
taken prisoner by the French, and was liberated only in the 
year '15, when our troops entered Paris. Even at the age of 
twenty, my father was not a chaste youth, but before he entered 
the military service, consequently when he was sixteen years 
old, a connection had been arranged by his parents between 
him and a servant girl, as such a union was at that time deemed 
necessary for health. A son was born, Mishenka, who was 
made a postillion, and who, during my father's life, lived well, 
but afterwards went wrong and often applied for help to us 
his half-brothers. I remember my strange feeling of consterna- 
tion when this brother of mine, fallen into destitution, bearing 
a greater resemblance to our father than any of us, begged help 



LEO TOLSTOY'S FATHER 23 

of us and was thankful for ten or fifteen roubles which were 
given him. 

' After the campaign, my father, disillusioned as to military 
service, as is evident from his letters, resigned and came to 
Kazan, where my grandfather, already completely ruined, was 
governor, and where also resided my father's sister, who was 
married to Yushkof. My grandfather soon died in Kazan, 
and my father remained with an inheritance which was not 
equal to all the debts, and with an old mother accustomed to 
luxury, as well as a sister and a cousin on his hands. At this 
time his marriage with my mother was arranged for him, and 
he removed to Yasnaya Polyana, where, after living nine years 
with my mother, he became a widower, and within my memory 
lived with us. 

* My father was a lively man of sanguine temperament ; he 
was of medium height, well built, with a pleasant face and 
eyes of a constantly serious expression. His life was passed in 
attending to the estate, a business in which he, as it seems, was 
not very expert, but in which he exercised a virtue great for 
that time : he not only was not cruel, but was, perhaps, even 
weak. So that during his time, too, I never heard of corporal 
punishment. Probably it was administered, for it is difficult 
to imagine at that time the management of an estate without 
the use of such punishments, but the cases were probably so 
rare, and my father took so little part in them, that we 
children never came to hear of them. It was only after my 
father's death that I learnt for the first time that such punish- 
ments took place at home. 

' We children with our tutor were returning home from a 
walk, when by the barn we met the fat steward, Andrey Fly in, 
followed by the coachman's assistant ' Squinting Koozma,' as 
he was called with a sad face. He was a man'ied man, no 
longer young. One of us asked Andrey Flyin where he was 
going, and he quietly answered that he was going to the barn, 
where Koozma had to be punished. I cannot describe the 
dreadful feeling which these words and the sight of the good- 
natured, crestfallen Koozma produced on me. In the evening 
I related this to my aunt, Tatiana Alexandrovna, who had 
educated us and hated corporal punishment, never having 
allowed it for us any more than for the serfs wherever she 
had influence. She was greatly revolted at what I told her, 



24 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

and rebuking me said : * And why did you not stop him ? ' 
Her words grieved me still more ... I never thought that 
we could interfere in such things, and yet it appeared that we 
could. But it was too late, and the dreadful deed had been 
committed. 

' I return to what I knew about my father, and how I re- 
present to myself his life. His occupation consisted in man- 
aging the estate, and above all in litigation, which was very 
frequent at that time, and, I think, particularly so with my 
father, who had to disentangle my grandfather's affairs. 
These lawsuits often compelled my father to leave home, 
besides which he used often to go out shooting and hunting. 
His chief sporting companions were his old friend, a wealthy 
bachelor, Kireyevsky, Yazikof, Glebof, and Islenyef. My father, 
in common with other landowners of that time, had special 
favourites among the house serfs. Of these there were two 
brothers, Petrusha and Matyusha, both handsome, smart 
fellows, who helped in the sport. At home my father, besides 
his occupations with his business and with us children, was 
greatly given to reading. He collected a library consisting, 
in accordance with the taste of the time, of French classics, 
historical works, and books on natural history by Buffon, 
Cuvier, &c. My aunt told me that my father had made a 
rule not to buy new books until he had read those previously 
purchased. But although he read much, it is difficult to 
believe that he mastered all these Histoires des Crcnsades and 
des Papes which he purchased for his library. As far as I 
can judge, he had no leanings towards science, but was on a 
level with the educated people of his time. Like most men 
of the first period of Alexander's reign, who served in the 
campaigns of the years 1 ! 3, '14, and '15, he was not what is 
now called a Liberal, but, merely as a matter of self-respect, 
he regarded it as impossible to serve either during the latter 
part of Alexander's reign or during the reign of Nicholas. 
Not only did he never serve himself, but even all his friends 
were similarly people of independent character, who did not 
serve, and who were in some opposition to the government of 
Nicholas I. During all my childhood and even youth, our 
family had no intimate relations with any government official. 
Naturally I understood nothing about this in childhood, but I 
did understand that my father never humbled himself before 




COUNT NICOLAS ILYICH TOLSTOY 
LEO TOLSTOY'S FATHER 



LEO TOLSTOY'S FATHER 25 

any one, nor altered his brisk, merry, and often chaffing 
tone. And this feeling of self-respect which I witnessed in 
him increased my love, my admiration for him. I remember 
him in his study, where we used to come to say good-night 
to him and sometimes merely to play, where he with a pipe 
in his mouth used to sit on a leather couch and caress us, and 
sometimes, to our immense delight, used to allow us to mount 
the couch behind his back, while he would continue reading, or 
talking to the steward standing by the door, or to S. I. Yazikof, 
my godfather, who often stayed with us. I remember how he 
used to come downstairs to us and draw pictures which appeared 
to us the height of perfection, as well as how he once made me 
declaim to him some verses of Pushkin, which had taken my 
fancy, and which I had learnt by heart : " To the Sea," " Fare 
thee well, free element," and to Napoleon, " The wonderful 
fate is accomplished, the great man is extinguished," and so on. 
He was evidently impressed by the pathos with which I recited 
these verses, and having listened to the end, he in a significant 
way exchanged glances with Yazikof, who was there. I under- 
stood that he saw something good in this recitation of mine, 
and at this I was very happy. I remember his merry jokes and 
stories at dinner and supper, and how my grandmother and 
aunt and we children laughed listening to him. I remember 
also his journeys to town, and the wonderfully fine appear- 
ance he had when he put on his frock-coat and tight-fitting 
trousers. But I principally remember him in connection with 
hunting. I remember his departures from the house for the 
hunt. It afterwards always seemed to me that Pushkin took 
his description of the departure for the hunt in Count Nulin 
from my father. I remember how we used to go for walks 
with him, how the young greyhounds who had followed him 
gambolled on the unmown fields in which the high grass 
flicked them and tickled their bellies, how they flew round 
with their tails on one side, and how he admired them. I 
remember how, on the day of the hunting festival of the 1st 
September, we all drove out in a lineyka * to the cover, where 
a fox had been let loose, and how the foxhounds pursued 
him, and, somewhere out of our sight, the greyhounds caught 

1 A Russian country vehicle, somewhat resembling a low four-wheeled 
jaunting car. Trans. 



26 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

him. 1 I particularly well remember the baiting of a wolf. 
It was quite near the house. We all came out to look. A 
big grey wolf, muzzled and with his legs tied, was brought out 
in a cart. He lay quietly, only looking through the corners 
of his eyes at those who approached him. At a place behind 
the garden the wolf was taken out, held to the ground with 
pitchforks, and his legs untied. He began to struggle and 
jerk about, fiercely biting the bit of wood tied into his mouth. 
At last this was untied at the back of his neck, and some one 
called out, " Off. 1 ' The forks were lifted, the wolf got up and 
stood still for about ten seconds, but there was a shout raised, 
and the dogs were let loose. The wolf, the dogs, and the 
horsemen all flew down the field ; and the wolf escaped. I 
remember how my father, scolding and angrily gesticulating, 
returned home. 

' But the pleasantest recollections of him were those of his 
sitting with grandmother on the sofa and helping her to play 
Patience. My father was polite and tender with every one, 
but to grandmother he was always particularly tenderly sub- 
servient. They used to sit grandmother with her long chin, 
in a cap with ruche and a bow on the sofa, playing Patience, 
and from time to time taking pinches from a gold snuff-box. 
Close to the sofa, in an arm-chair, sat Petrovna, a Tula trades- 
woman who dealt in firearms, dressed in her military jacket, and 
spinning thread, and at intervals tapping her reel against the 
wall, in which she had already knocked a hole. My aunts are 
sitting in arm-chairs and one of them is reading out loud. In 
one of the arm-chairs, having arranged a comfortable depres- 
sion in it, lies black-and-tan Milka, my father's favourite fast 
greyhound, with beautiful black eyes. We come to say good- 
night, and sometimes sit here. We always take leave of 
grandmother and our aunts by kissing their hands. I re- 
member once, in the middle of the game of Patience and of the 
reading, my father interrupts my aunt, points to the looking- 

flass, and whispers something. We all look in the same 
irection. It was the footman Tikhon, who, knowing that 
my father was in the drawing-room, was going into his study 

1 In Russia, owing to local conditions, the methods of sport are necessarily 
different from those in England. Thus foxes, abounding in great numbers, 
are hunted out of the woods by foxhounds, and then sometimes caught by 
greyhounds in the surrounding fields. 



LEO TOLSTOY'S FATHER 27 

to take some tobacco from a big leather folding tobacco 
pouch. My father sees him in the looking-glass, and examines 
his figure carefully stepping on tiptoe. My aunts are laughing. 
Grandmother for a long time does not understand, and when 
she does she cheerfully smiles. I am enchanted by my father's 
kindness, and taking leave of him with special tenderness, kiss 
his white, muscular hand. I loved my father very much, but 
did not know how strong this love of mine for him was until 
he died.' i 

To the above valuable information about his parents given 
by Tolstoy himself we need add only a few facts taken from 
historical documents. 

Count Nicolay Ilyich Tolstoy, the father of Lyof Tolstoy, 
was born in 1797. In the documents of the Kazan University, 
among the papers connected with Tolstoy's admission as a 
student, one of some interest is the certificate of the military 
service of his father, Nicolay Ilyich. 

We give the material part of the text of this document, 
dated January 29, 1825. 2 

'The bearer of this, Lieutenant-Colonel Count Nicolay 
Ilyich, the son of Tolstoy, as appears by the official doquments, 
is twenty-eight years old, has the order of St. Vladimir of the 
fourth class, belongs to the nobility, owns no serfs. Being a 
government secretary, he entered his Majesty's service as a 
cornet in 1812, June 11, in the Irkutsk regular regiment of 
Cossacks, whence he was transferred to the Irkutsk regiment of 
hussars in 1812, August 18; he distinguished himself and was 
promoted lieutenant in 1813, April 27 ; and in the same year 
was promoted second cavalry captain. He further distinguished 
himself, and was transferred in the same rank to the regiment 
of horse-guards in 1814, August 8. From this he was trans- 
ferred to the regiment of the Prince of Orange with the rank 
of major in 1817, December 11. Having resigned, owing to 
illness, he was rewarded with the rank of lieutenant-colonel 
in 1819, March 14. He received an appointment in the 
Military Orphanage as assistant to the superintendent in 1821, 
December 15. During his service he took part in various 
campaigns. In 1813 he was often in action, on April 2 he 

1 From a draft of uncorrected memoirs by Tolstoy in my possession. 
a " Count L. N. Tolstoy and his University Life." N. P. Zagoskin, IstoricheaJci 
Vestnik, January 1894. 



28 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

was taken prisoner by the enemy before the fall of Paris, and, 
for his distinguished conduct in battle, was rewarded as above 
described with the ranks of lieutenant and captain of cavalry, 
and the order of St. Vladimir of the fourth class with ribbon.' 

From the same document we learn that Count N. I. Tolstoy 
resigned his post in the Military Orphanage and definitely 
retired from service, ' for family reasons,' Jan. 8, 1824. 

After his resignation Count Nicolay Ilyich Tolstoy settled 
in Yasnaya Polyana. At that time he and his wife had only 
one child, their son Nicolay, one year old, born in 1823. In 
the country the family quickly increased. On February 17, 
1826, a son, Sergey, was born ; on April 23, 1827, Dmitri ; on 
August 28, 1828, a third son, Lyof. 

The peaceful and calm country life of the family did not last 
long. In 1830, having brought into the world a daughter, 
Marie (born March 7), the Countess Tolstoy died, leaving her 
husband with five children. 

After the death of their mother the children were left under 
the care of a distant relation, the above-mentioned Miss 
Tatiana Alexandrovna Yergolsky, who had been practically 
brought up in the house of Count Ilya Andreyevich, the 
grandfather of our Count Tolstoy. 

An interesting episode in the life of the father of Tolstoy is 
remembered in the family. 

In 1813, after the blockade of Erfurt, he was sent to 
St. Petersburg with despatches, and on his way back, near the 
village of St. Obie, he was taken prisoner together with his 
orderly, but the latter managed to hide in his boot all his 
master's gold coins. For several months, while they were kept 
prisoners, he never took off his boots, for fear he should reveal 
his secret. He had to bear extreme discomfort ; he had, for 
instance, a bad sore on his foot, still he showed no sign of 
pain. When Nicolay Ilyich arrived in Paris he could, thanks 
to his orderly, live in luxury. He long retained a grateful 
recollection of his devoted servant. 1 

Any one who has read Tolstoy's personal reminiscences will 
readily agree that the parents whom he describes in the novel 
Childhood are not his own. In fact, so far as we know, in the 
father was represented A. M. Islenef, a neighbouring land- 
owner and a friend of Tolstoy's father. The mother is an 

1 Sergeyenko, How L. N. Tolstoy Lives and Works, p. 40. Moscow, 1898. 



LEO TOLSTOY'S PARENTS 29 

imaginary character. But in War and Peace it is not difficult 
to find out an artistic description of his parents in the persons 
of Count Nicolay Ilyich Rostof and Princess Marya Bolkonsky. 
Almost every member of the Rostof family, from Count Ilya 
Andreych to Sonya the adopted, corresponds to some personage 
in the Tolstoy family ; and the inhabitants of the Bleak Hills 
can be similarly brought into comparison. The reading of 
this novel therefore may add much to our knowledge of the 
manners and characters of the ancestors and parents of 
Tolstoy. 



PART II 

CHILDHOOD, BOYHOOD, AND YOUTH 

(1828-1850) 



PART II 

CHILDHOOD, BOYHOOD, AND YOUTH (1828-1850) 

CHAPTER IV 

CHILDHOOD 

Yasnaya Polyana The house where Tolstoy was born The church register 
First recollections of Tolstoy : the swaddling, the trough The uncon- 
sciousness of early childhood Periods of the infinite Nature and child 
at one Yeremeyevna Feodor Ivanovich and the laundresses The game 
of " Milashki " Passing from the women's quarters to Feodor Ivanovich, 
downstairs Tatiana Alexandrovna Yergolsky Tolstoy's recollections 
of her Mucius Scaevola A note of Tatiana found by Tolstoy in her 
portfolio Tolstoy's attitude to Tatiana The atmosphere of love sur- 
rounding Tatiana Her room Her influence on Tolstoy Other persons 
who surrounded Tolstoy in his childhood F. I. Mauer The imbeciles 
Dunechka-Temeshof, her history, the inheritance Reminiscences of the 
servants : Praskovya Issayevna Anna Ivanovna Tatiana Philipovna 
Nicolay Philipovich, the coachman Vassili Trubetskoy Brother 
Nicolenka Fanfaronof Hill, the "Ant Brothers," the Green Wand A 
few more childish reminiscences Conclusion (from the novel Childhood). 

' I WAS born and I spent ray earliest childhood in the village 
Yasnaya Polyana. 1 

With these words Tolstoy opens his Reminiscences, and before 
we begin the description of his childhood we think it well to 
say a few words about this little corner of the earth destined 
to become of worldwide interest. What a variety of visitors 
have called at Yasnaya Polyana ! Natives of the Malay Archi- 
pelago, Australians, Japanese and Americans, Siberian run- 
aways and representatives of all the European nations, have 
visited this village and spread abroad a description of it, as 
well as the words and thoughts of the aged prophet, its 
inhabitant. 

Yasnaya Polyana, the family estate of the Princes Volkonsky, 
is situated in the Krapivensk district of the province of Tula, 

VOL. i. 33 c 



34 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

almost on the border line of the district of Tula, fifteen versts 
to the south of the town of the same name. Three high-roads 
of three different periods cross one another in its neighbour- 
hood ; the old Kief road overgrown with grass, the new Kief 
macadamized road, and the Moscow-Kursk railway line, the 
nearest station of which, Kozlovka-Zasseka, is at three and a 
half versts distance from Tolstoy's home. 

The beautiful hilly neighbourhood surrounding Yasnaya 
Polyana is divided from east to west by a long belt of Crown 
forest, called the Abattis. This name points back to ancient 
times, when in that place the Slavs had to repel the attacks 
of the Crimean Tartars and other Mongolian tribes, and were 
obliged to cut trees and make barriers which formed a natural 
and impenetrable defence against the enemies'" hordes. 

The house in which Tolstoy was born no longer stands in 
Yasnaya Polyana. The work of building it was started by his 
grandfather, Prince Volkonsky, and finished by his father; 
after which the house was sold to a neighbouring landowner, 
Gorokhof, and was removed to the village Dolgoye, where it 
now stands. It was in the early fifties, when Tolstoy was in 
great need of money, that he requested one of his relatives to 
sell this house. The large-sized residence with columns and 
balconies was sold for the comparatively insignificant price of 
about five thousand roubles in paper money. From Tolstoy's 
letters to his brother it is evident that he was very sorry to 
part with it, and only dire necessity induced him to do so. 
At present nobody lives in it. It stands neglected, with its 
window-shutters nailed up. The present two houses of Yasnaya 
Polyana consist of the two wings, formerly standing at the 
sides of the main body of the old house which was sold. The 
place occupied by the old house is partly planted with trees, 
partly cleared and turned into a croquet-ground and a small 
square which is used as a dining-place when weather permits. 

In front of the house there is at present a flower-bed, and 
beyond that spreads an old garden with ponds and aged lime- 
tree avenues. The garden is surrounded by a ditch and a 
rampart. At the entrance of this garden stand two brick 
towers, painted white. Old people say that in the time of the 
grandfather, Prince Volkonsky, sentries used to stand there. 
A birch avenue, the so-called ' Prospect, 1 begins at the towers 
and leads up to the house. 







z 

1 1 

M 

C/3 O 



UJ 



o 

O I 






w 

x 
P 

O 

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w 
K 



To the old garden are added new fruit-gardens planted under 
Tolstoy's own supervision. The whole residence is situated on 
rising ground and surrounded by a luxurious growth of shrubs. 

It is unfortunate that there exist no details of interest relat- 
ing to Tolstoy's birth besides the following extract from the 
church register quoted by Zagoskin in his Reminiscences : 

' In the year 1828, on August 28, in the village of Yasnaya 
Polyana, a son, Lyof, was born to Count Nicolay Ilyich Tolstoy 
and baptized on the 29th of August by the priest Vassili 
Mozhaisky, deacon Arkhip Ivanof, chanter Alexander Feodorof, 
and sexton Feodor Grigoryef. The sponsors at the baptism 
were the landowner of the Belevsky district, Simon Ivanovich 
Yazikof, and Countess Pelageya Tolstova.' l 

The Countess Pelageya Tolstova was in fact the grandmother 
of Lyof Tolstoy on his father's side, Pelageya Nicolayevna 
Tolstoy. 

It is seldom that a biographer has the good fortune to 
learn facts of such an early age. In his First Memories, 
Tolstoy relates his vague sensations on being swathed, sensa- 
tions, that is, felt during the first year of his life. 

We quote these reminiscences as they stand : 

' Here are my first reminiscences, which I am unable to 
arrange in order, not knowing what came before and what 
after ; of some of them I do not even know whether they 
happened in reality or in a dream. Here they are : I am 
bound ; I wish to free my arms and I cannot do it and I scream 
and cry, and my cries are unpleasant to myself, but I cannot 
cease. Somebody bends down over me, I do not remember 
who. All is in a half light. But I remember that there are 
two people. My cries affect them ; they are disturbed by my 
cries, but do not unbind me as I desire, and I cry yet louder. 
They think that this is necessary (i.e. that I should be bound), 
whereas I know it is not necessary and I wish to prove it to 
them, and am convulsed with cries, distasteful to myself but 
unrestrainable. I feel the injustice and cruelty, not of human 
beings, for they pity me, but of fate, and I feel pity for myself. 
I do not and never shall know what it was, whether I was 
swathed when a babe at the breast and tried to get my arm 
free, or whether I was swathed when more than a year old, 

1 N. P. Zagoskin, ' Count L. N. Tolstoy and his Student's Years.' Historic 
Review, Jan. 1894, p. 87. 



36 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

in order that I should not scratch myself; or whether, as it 
happens in dreams, I have collected into this one reminiscence 
many impressions ; but certain it is that this was my first and 
most powerful impression in life. Nor is it my cries that are 
impressed upon my mind, nor my sufferings, but the complexity 
and contrast of the impression. I desire freedom, it interferes 
with no one else, and I, who require strength, am weak, whilst 
they are strong. 

* Another impression is a joyful one. I am sitting in a 
wooden trough, and am enveloped by the new and not unplea- 
sant smell of some kind of stuff with which my little body is 
being rubbed. It was probably bran, and most likely I was 
having a bath, but the novelty of the impression from the bran 
aroused me. and for the first time I remarked and liked my 
little body with the ribs showing on the breast, and the smooth, 
dark-coloured trough, my nurse's rolled-up sleeves and the warm 
steaming bran-water, and its sound, and especially the feeling 
of the smoothness of the trough's edges when I passed my little 
hands along them. 

' It is strange and dreadful to think that from my birth until 
the age of three years, during the time when I was fed from the 
breast, when I was weaned, when I began to crawl, to walk, to 
speak, however much I may seek them in my memory, I can 
find no other impressions save these two. When did I originate ? 
When did I begin to live ? And why is it joyous to me to 
imagine myself as at that time, and yet has been dreadful to 
me, as it is still dreadful to many, to imagine myself again 
entering that state of death of which there will be no recollec- 
tions that can be expressed in words ? Was I not alive when I 
learned to look, to listen, to understand, and to speak, when I 
slept, took the breast, kissed it, and laughed and gladdened my 
mother ? I lived, and lived blissfully ! Did I not then acquire 
all that by which I now live, and acquire it to such an extent and 
so quickly, that in all the rest of my life I have not acquired a 
hundredth part of the amount ? From a five-year-old child to 
my present self there is only one step. From a new-born infant 
to a five-year-old child there is an awesome distance. From 
the germ to the infant an unfathomable distance. But from 
non-existence to the germ the distance is not only unfathom- 
able, but inconceivable. Not only are space and time and 
causation forms of thought, and not only is the essence of life 



MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD 37 

outside these forms, but all our life is a greater and greater sub- 
jection of one's self to these forms, and then again liberation 
from them. 

' The next reminiscences refer to the time when I was already 
four or five years old, but of these I have very few, and not one 
of them concerns life outside the walls of the house. Nature, 
up to five years old, did not exist for me. All that I remember 
takes place in my little bed in a room. Neither grass nor 
leaves nor sky nor sun exist for me. It cannot be that I was not 
given flowers or leaves to play with, that I did not see the grass, 
was not shaded from the sun ; still, up to five or six years, I 
have no recollection of what we call nature. Probably one has 
to leave it in order to see it, and I was nature itself. 

' After that of the trough, the next reminiscence is one about 
" Yeremeyevna." " Yeremeyevna " was a word with which we 
children were threatened, bub my recollection of it is this : I 
am in my little bed, happy and content as always, and I should 
not remember this, were it not that my nurse or some person, 
who formed part of my childish world, says something in a 
voice new to me, and goes away, and, besides being merry, I 
become afraid. And I call to mind that I am not alone, but 
with some one else who is like myself; this probably was my 
sister Mashenka, a year younger than myself, whose bed stood 
in the same room as mine. I recall that my bed has a curtain, 
and my sister and I are happy and afraid of something extra- 
ordinary which has happened among us, and I hide under my 
pillow, both hide and watch the door, from which I expect 
something new and amusing, and we laugh and hide and wait. 
And lo ! there appears some one in a dress and cap quite unlike 
anything I have ever seen, but I recognise that it is the same 
person who is always with me, (whether my nurse or my aunt 
I do not know,) and in a gruff voice which I recognise, this 
some one says something dreadful about naughty children and 
" Yeremeyevna. 11 I shriek with fear and joy, and am indeed 
horrified and yet delighted to be horrified, and I wish the one 
who is frightening me not to know I have recognised her. We 
quiet down, but then purposely begin whispering to each other 
to recall " Yeremeyevna." 

' I have another recollection of " Yeremeyevna," probably 
of a later period, for it is more distinct, although it has for 
ever remained incomprehensible to me. In this reminiscence 



38 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

the chief part is played by the German Feodor Ivanovich, our 
tutor; but I know for certain that I am not yet under his 
supervision ; therefore that this takes place before I am five. 
And this is my first impression of Feodor Ivanovich, and it 
happened so early that I do not as yet remember any one, 
neither my brothers nor my father. If I have an idea of any 
separate person, it is only my sister, and that simply because 
she is, like me, afraid of " Yeremeyevna." With this remi- 
niscence is connected my first recognition that our house has a 
second storey. How I got up there, whether I mounted alone 
or was carried up, I don't at all remember, but I remember 
that there were many of us, and that we were all moving in a 
circle, holding each other's hands. Amongst us there were 
women, strangers to us (I somehow remember that they 
were washerwomen), and we all begin to circle round and 
jump, and Feodor Ivanovich jumps, lifting his legs too high, 
flinging about and making a great noise, and I feel at one and 
the same moment that this is not right, and that it is wicked, 
and I rebuke him, and I think I begin to cry, and everything 
ceases.' 

The account given by Marie, Tolstoy's sister, of their 
childish games belongs to this period. 

' Three of us slept in the same room I, Lyovochka, and 
Dunechka 1 and we often played with one another, making a 
children's party apart from our elder brothers, who lived with 
the tutor downstairs. 

' " Milashki " was one of our favourite games. One of us 
would pretend to be the "milashki," i.e. a child who was 
specially petted by others, put to bed, fed, given medical treat- 
ment, and generally made much fuss about. This " milashki " 
(favourite), according to the rules of the game, had to submit 
without complaining to all the tricks that were played with 
him, and to act his part submissively. 

' I remember how grieved and vexed we were during the 
game when our "milashki" (generally Lyof Nicolayevich) 
really fell asleep after having been put to bed. According 
to the rules of the game, he had to cry, then to be doctored, 
given medicine, rubbed, &c. And thus his sleep put an end 
to our play, and called us back from illusions to reality.' 

' This is all I remember till I was five years old,' continues 

1 The governess ; see concerning her further on in the following chapter, 



MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD 39 

Tolstoy. ' As for my nurses, my aunts, brothers, sisters, 
father, the rooms, and the playthings of all these I remember 
nothing. My definite reminiscences commence from the time 
when I was transferred downstairs to Feodor Ivanovich and 
my elder brothers. 

' With Feodor Ivanovich and the boys I experienced for the 
first time, and therefore more powerfully than ever after, that 
feeling which is called the feeling of duty the feeling of the 
Cross, which every man is called to bear. I was sorry to 
abandon what I was used to, (used to from eternity,) I was 
sorry, poetically sorry, to separate not so much from persons, 
from my sister, my nurse and my aunt, as from my little bed, 
with its curtain and the pillow, and I was afraid of the new life 
into which I entered. I tried to find what was joyful in the 
new life which confronted me ; I tried to believe the caressing 
words with which Feodor Ivanovich sought to attract me; I 
tried not to see the contempt with which the boys received 
me, the younger one; I tried to think that it was shameful 
for a big boy to live with girls, and that there was nothing 
good in the upstairs life with the nurse. But inwardly I 
felt dreadfully sad, I knew that I was irretrievably losing 
innocence and happiness, and only the feeling of self-respect, 
the consciousness that I was fulfilling my duty, supported me. 
Many times later on I had to live through such moments 
at the parting of the ways in life, when I entered on a new 
road. I experienced a quiet grief at the irretrievableness of 
what was being lost, I kept disbelieving that it was really 
happening. Although I had been told that I was to be trans- 
ferred to the boys, yet I remember that the dressing-gown, 
with belt sewn to the back, which was put on me, cut me 
off as it were for ever from upstairs, and then for the first 
time I was impressed, not by all those with whom I had lived 
upstairs, but by the principal person with whom I lived and 
whom I did not previously understand. This was my aunt, 
Tatiana Alexandrovna. I remember a short, stout, black- 
haired, kind, affectionate, solicitous woman. She put the 
dressing-gown on to me, and tightened the belt whilst embrac- 
ing and kissing me, and I saw that she felt as I did ; that it 
was sad dreadfully sad but necessary. For the first time I 
felt that life was not a plaything, but a difficult task. Shall 
I not feel the same when I am dying? I shall understand 



40 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

that death or future life is not a plaything, but a difficult 
task.' 1 

Of this aunt, Tatiana Alexandrovna, Tolstoy gives the fol- 
lowing interesting information in his Memoirs : l 

' The third person, after my father and mother, as regards 
influence upon my life, was my " Aunty," as we called her, 
Tatiana Alexandrovna Yergolsky. She was a very distant 
relation of my grandmother through the Gorchakofs. She 
and her sister Lisa, who afterwards married Count Peter 
Ivanovich Tolstoy, remained poor little orphan girls after the 
death of their parents. There were also several brothers whom 
my parents managed to get adopted. But it was decided that 
one of the girls should be taken to be educated by Tatiana 
Semyonovna Skuratof, powerful, important, famous in her time 
and circle of the Chern district, and the other by my grand- 
mother. Scraps of paper were folded and put under the icons, 
and after prayer they were chosen, when Lizenka fell to the lot 
of Tatiana Semyonovna, and the little dark one (Tanichka) to 
my grandmother. Tanichka, as we called her, was of the same 
age as my father. She was born in 1795, was brought up 
exactly on equal lines with my aunts, and was tenderly loved 
by all ; and indeed it was impossible not to love her for her 
firm, resolute, energetic, and at the same time self- sacrificing 
character, a character very well displayed in an incident with 
a ruler, about which she used to tell us, showing the scar of 
a burn on her arm, almost as big as the palm of the hand, 
between the elbow and the wrist. The children had been 
reading the story of Mucius Scaevola, and they disputed as to 
whether any of them could make up his mind to do the same. 
" I will do it, 11 she said. " You will not," said Yazikof, my 
godfather, and also characteristically to himself he burnt a 
ruler on the candle, so that it became charred and smoked all 
over. "There, place this on your arm, 1 ' he said. She stretched 
out her white arm (at that time girls were always dressed 
decollete), and Yazikof applied the charred ruler. She frowned, 
but did not withdraw her arm ; she groaned only when the 
ruler with the skin was torn away. When the older people saw 
her wound and asked how it was caused, she said she had done 
it herself, wishing to experience vrhat Mucius Scaevola had done. 

1 First Reminiscences (from unpublished autobiographical sketches). Tol- 
stoy's Complete Works, tenth Russian edition, vol. xiii. p. 515. 



MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD 41 

' So resolute and self-sacrificing was she in everything. 

' She must have been very attractive, with her crisp, black, 
curling hair in its enormous plait, her jet black eyes and 
vivacious, energetic expression. V. Yushkof, the husband of 
my aunt Pelageya Ilyinishna, a great flirt, even when an old 
man, used often, when recalling her, to say with the feeling 
with which those who have been in love speak about the 
object of their previous affections : " Toinette, oh ! elk etait 
charmante / " * 

' When I remember her she was more than forty, and I never 
thought about her being pretty or not pretty. I simply loved 
her, loved her eyes, her smile, and her dusky broad little hand 
with its energetic little cross vein. 

' She probably loved my father and my father loved her, but 
she did not marry him in youth, in order that he might marry 
my rich mother, and later she did not marry him because she 
did not wish to spoil her pure poetic relations with him and 
us. In her papers, in a little beaded portfolio, there lies the 
following note, written in 1836, six years after my mother's 
death : 

'"16th August 1836. Nicolas m'a fait aiyourcChui, une 
etrange proposition celle de Tepouser, de servir de mere a 
ses enfants et de ne jamais les quitter, J*ai refuse la premiere 
proposition, fai promis de remplir Tautre tant queje vivrai" '' 

'Thus she recorded it, but she never spoke of this either 
to us or to any one. After my father's death she fulfilled 
his second desire. We had two aunts and a grandmother, 
they all had more right to us than Tatiana Alexandrovna, 
whom we called Aunt only by habit, for our kinship was so 
distant that I could never remember it, but she, by right of 
love to us, like Buddha with the wounded swan, took the first 
place in our bringing up. And this we felt. 

' I had fits of passionately tender love for her. 

'I remember how once on the sofa in the drawing-room, 
when I was about five, I squeezed in behind her, and she caress- 
ingly touched me with her hand. I caught this hand and 
began to kiss it and to cry from tender love towards her. 

1 ' Toinette, oh ! she was charming 1 ' 

2 ' 16th August 1836. Nicolas has to-day made me a strange proposal 
that I should marry him, be a mother to his children, and never desert 
them. I refused the first proposal, I have promised to fulfil the other as 
long as I live.' 



42 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

'She had been educated like a young lady of a rich 
house ; she spoke and wrote French better than Russian, and 
played the piano admirably, but for thirty years she did 
not touch it. She resumed playing only when I had grown 
up and learnt to play, and sometimes in playing duets she 
astonished me by the correctness and refinement of her per- 
formance. Towards the servants she was kind, she never 
spoke to them angrily and could not bear the idea of blows 
or flogging, yet she regarded serfs as serfs and treated them 
as their superior. Notwithstanding this, all the servants dis- 
tinguished her from others and loved her. When she died 
and was being borne through the village, peasants came out 
from all the houses and paid for Te Deums. Her principal 
characteristic was love, but how I could wish that this had 
not been all for one person for my father. Still, starting 
from this centre her love spread on all around. We felt that 
she loved us for his sake, that through him she loved every 
one, because all her life was love. 

' She, owing to her love for us, had the greatest right to 
us, but our aunts, especially Pelageya Ilyinishna, when the 
latter took us away to Kazan, had the external rights, and 
"Auntie" submitted to them, but her love did not thereby 
diminish. She lived with her sister, the Countess L. A. Tolstoy, 
but in her soul she lived with us, and, whenever possible, she 
would return to us. The fact that the last years of her life, 
about twenty years, were passed with me at Yasnaya Polyana 
was a great joy to me. But how incapable we were of appreci- 
ating our happiness, the more so that true happiness is never 
loud nor manifest! I appreciated it, but far from sufficiently. 
" Auntie " liked to keep sweets in her room in various little 
dishes dried figs, gingerbread, dates ; she liked to buy them 
and to treat me first to them. I cannot forget, and cannot 
call to mind without a cruel twinge of conscience, how, 
several times, I refused her money for the sweets, and how 
she, sadly sighing, desisted. It is true I was then in strait- 
ened circumstances, but now I cannot recall without remorse 
how I refused her ! 

'When I was already married and she had begun to fail, 
she once, having waited for the opportunity when I was in 
her room, turning her face away, said to me (I saw she was 
ready to shed tears) : " Look here, mes chers amis, my room is 




o 

x 

S 
< 
w 

h4 

en 
U 
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MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD 43 

a very good one and you will require it. But if I die in it," 
she went on with a trembling voice, " the memory of that 
will be unpleasant, so move me to another that I may not 
die here." Such she was from the earliest time of my child- 
hood when as yet I could not understand. . . . 

' Her room was thus. In the left corner stood a work- 
table with innumerable little articles valuable only to her, 
in the right corner a glass cupboard with icons and one big 
one that of the Saviour in a silver setting; in the middle 
the couch on which she slept, in front of it a table. To the 
right a door for her maid. 

' I have said that Aunty Tatiana Alexandrovna had the 
greatest influence on my life. This influence consisted first, 
in that ever since childhood she taught me the spiritual delight 
of love. She taught me this, but not in words : by her whole 
being she filled me with love. I saw, I felt how she enjoyed 
loving, and I understood the joy of love. This was the first 
thing. 

* Secondly, she taught me the delights of an unhurried, lonely 
life. 1 

' But about this we will speak later. 

' Although this reminiscence is not of childhood but of adult 
life, I cannot refrain from recalling my bachelor life with her 
at Yasnaya Polyana.' l 

In the chapter dealing with Tolstoy's parents we have 
already mentioned that his novels, Childhood, Boyhood, and 
Youth, are not to be considered autobiographical ; but this 
remark only applies to their external facts and scenery, created 
by the author to give greater completeness to his picture. 

As to the description of the inner life of the child-hero, 
we can say with confidence that, in one way or another, 
the author lived through all the experiences of his hero, and 
therefore we consider that we have a right to use them as 
furnishing hints for our biography. 

Further, we know that certain of the characters which we 
meet with in this work are copies from life. We will mention 
them here as they will throw some further light on the group 
of persons amongst whom Tolstoy^s childhood was spent. 

Thus, the German, Carl Ivanovitch Mauer, is certainly 
Feodor Ivanovitch Kessel, the German tutor, who really lived in 

1 From Tolstoy's rough memoirs and uncorrected notes entrusted to me, 



44 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Tolstoy's home, and whom we have mentioned before. Tolstoy 
speaks of him in his Earliest Memories. He must undoubtedly 
have influenced the spiritual life of the child, and we may 
presume that the influence had been for good, since the author 
of Childhood speaks with great love of him, where he sketches 
his ' honest, straightforward and loving nature.' 

It is not without reason that Tolstoy begins the story of 
his childhood with a description of this character. Feodor 
Ivanovitch died in Yasnaya Polyana, and was buried in the 
parish churchyard. 

Another real character in Childhood is the half-crazy Grisha. 
Though he is not a real person, many traits of his character 
are true to life ; he had evidently left a deep trace in the child's 
soul. To him Tolstoy dedicates the following pathetic words 
describing the evening prayer of the pilgrim which he over- 
heard : 

' His words were incorrect, but touching. He prayed for all 
his benefactors, (thus he called all who received him,) among 
them for my mother, and for us ; he prayed for himself and 
asked the Lord to forgive him his heavy sins, and repeated, 
" O Lord, forgive mine enemies ! " He arose with groans, still 
repeating the same words, prostrated himself upon the ground, 
and again arose, in spite of the weight of the chains that 
emitted a grating, penetrating sound as they struck the 
ground . . . 

* Grisha was for a long time in this attitude of religious 
ecstasy, and he improvised prayers. Now he repeated several 
times in succession, " The Lord have mercy upon me," but every 
time with new strength and expression ; now, again, he said, 
"Forgive me, O Lord, instruct me what to do, instruct me 
what to do, O Lord ! " with an expression as if he expected 
an immediate answer to his prayer; now, again, were heard 
only pitiful sobs. He rose on his knees, crossed his arms on 
his breast, and grew silent. 

'"Thy will be done!" he suddenly exclaimed with an inimi- 
table expression, knocked his brow against the floor, and began 
to sob like an infant. 

' Much water has flowed since then, many memories of the 
past have lost all meaning for me and have become dim 
recollections, and pilgrim Grisha has long ago ended his last 
pilgrimage; but the impression which he produced on me, 



and the feeling which he evoked, will never die in my 
memory. 

* O great Christian Grisha ! Your faith was so strong that 
you felt the nearness of God ; your love was so great that 
words flowed of their own will from your lips, and you did not 
verify them by reason. And what high praise you gave to 
the majesty of God, when, not finding any words, you pros- 
trated yourself on the ground.' 1 

Are we not entitled to regard this man as the first who 
taught Tolstoy that faith of the people, which, after his 
fruitless wanderings through the labyrinths of theology, phil- 
osophy, and positive science, satisfied his soul. A faith which 
he in his turn has lighted with his own light of reason, 
purified and intensified in the struggle and sufferings which 
unavoidably accompany the search for truth. He gives a 
few indications of this in his Reminiscences. 

Of other secondary characters in the novel we will mention 
Mimi and her daughter Katenka, ' something like the first 
love. 1 Under the name Mimi is presented the governess of 
a neighbouring house, and Katenka is Dunechka Temeshof, 
an adopted member of the Tolstoy family. Tolstoy, in his 
Reminiscences, speaks of her thus: 

'Besides my brothers and my sister, a girl of my age, 
Dunechka Temeshof, grew up with us, and I must tell who 
she was and how she came to be in our house. The visitors 
whom I remember in childhood were my aunt's husband 
Yushkof, of an appearance strange to children, with black 
moustaches and whiskers and wearing spectacles, (I shall yet 
have much to say about him,) and my godfather, S. Yazikof, a 
remarkably ugly man, saturated with the smell of tobacco, his 
big face possessing a superfluity of skin which he kept twist- 
ing incessantly into the strangest grimaces and our neighbour 
Ogaref and Islenef. Besides these we were also visited by a 
distant relative through the Gorchakofs, a wealthy bachelor 
Temeshof, who addressed my father as brother, and had a 
peculiarly enthusiastic love for him. He lived forty versts 
from Yasnaya Polyana, in the village Pirogovo, and once 
brought with him from there some sucking pigs with tails 
twisted into rings, which were placed on a tray on the table 

i The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. i., pp. 46-47, 60-63. J. M. Dent 
& Co., London. 



46 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

in the servants 1 hall. Temeshof, Pirogovo, and sucking pigs 
are blended into one in my imagination. 

' Besides this, Temeshof retained a place in the memory of 
us children by his playing on the piano in the hall some 
dancing tune, it was all he could play, and making us dance 
to this music, and when we used to ask him what dance we 
were to dance, he would say that all dances could be danced to 
that music. And we liked to take advantage of this. 1 

'It was a winter evening. Tea was over, we were soon 
going to be taken to bed, and my eyes were already blinking, 
when from the servants 1 hall into the drawing-room, where we 
were all sitting, and where only two candles were burning, and 
it was half dark, there came suddenly and quickly through the 
big open door a man in soft boots who, having reached the 
middle of the room, fell down on his knees. The lighted pipe 
with its long stem, which he held in his hand, struck against 
the floor, and the sparks flew out lighting the face of the 
kneeling man it was Temeshof. What Temeshof told my 
father, while kneeling before him, I do not remember nor indeed 
did I hear, but only afterwards I learnt that he had fallen 
on his knees before my father because he had brought with 
him his illegitimate daughter, Dunechka, concerning whom 
he had previously spoken, and arranged that my father 
should accept her and bring her up with his own children. 
Thenceforth a broad-faced girl appeared amongst us of the 
same age as myself, Dunechka with her nurse, Eupraxia, a 
tall, wrinkled old woman with a hanging chin, like a turkey, 
in which there was a ball which she used to let us feel. 

'The introduction of Dunechka into our house was con- 
nected with a complicated business agreement between my 
father and Temeshof. The agreement was of this sort. 

' Temeshof was very wealthy. He had no legitimate 
children ; he only had two little girls, Dunechka and 
Verochka, the latter a little hunchback, born of a former 
serf girl, Marfusha, who was subsequently set free. The 
heirs of Temeshof were his sisters. He made over to them 
all his estates except Pirogovo, in which he lived, and this 
he desired to transfer to my father, on the understanding 
that my father should remit to the two girls its value, 
<30,OQO. It was always said of Pirogovo that it was as good 
as a gold-mine, and was worth much more than that sum. 



MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD 47 

In order to arrange this matter the following method was 
devised. Temeshof drew up a conveyance according to which 
he sold Pirogovo to my father for .30,000, while my father 
gave promissory notes to three unconcerned persons, Islenef, 
Yazikof, and Glebof, to the amount of 10,000 each. On 
Temeshofs death my father was to take possession of the 
estate, and having previously explained to Glebof, Islenef, 
and Yazikof for what purpose the notes were given them, 
he was to pay them the .30,000 which were to go to the 
two girls. 

* Perhaps I may be mistaken in the description of the whole 
plan, but I positively know that the estate of Pirogovo passed 
over to us after my father's death, and that there were three 
promissory notes payable to Islenef, Glebof, and Yazikof, that 
our guardians redeemed these notes, and that the amount of 
the first two was paid to the girls, 10,000 to each; whereas 
Yazikof misappropriated the other 10,000; but about this 
later. 

* Dunechka lived with us, and was a nice, simple, quiet, but 
not clever girl, and much disposed to weep. I remember how, 
when I had already learnt French, I was made to teach her the 
alphabet. At first it went well (we were each five years old), 
but later she probably became tired, and ceased to name cor- 
rectly the letter I pointed out. I insisted. She began to cry. 
I also. And when the elders came we could not pronounce 
anything owing to our hopeless tears. I remember another 
incident about her. When a plum was found to be missing 
from a plate and the culprit could not be discovered, Feodor 
Ivanovich, with a serious face and not looking at us, said that 
its being eaten did not much matter, but that any one who 
swallowed the stone might die. Dunechka could not restrain 
her terror, and said that she had spat out the stone. I further 
remember her tears of despair when she and my brother 
Mitenka got up a game which consisted in spitting into each 
other's mouth a little copper chain, and she spat so strongly, 
whilst Mitenka opened his mouth wide, that he swallowed 
the chain. She cried inconsolably until the doctor arrived and 
reassured every one. . . .' 

This brief but valuable information Tolstoy gives concern- 
ing the servants who surrounded him during his childhood. 
The information forms a supplement to what is described in 



48 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

his published story Childhood. We borrow this description 
also from his Reminiscences : 

' I have described Praskovya Issayevna fairly correctly in 
Childhood. All I there wrote about her was actual truth. She 
was the housekeeper, a venerable personage. I remember one 
of the pleasantest impressions was that of sitting in her room 
after or during a lesson and talking with and listening to her. 
She probably liked to see us at these moments of specially 
happy and touching expansiveness : " Praskovya Issayevna, how 
did grandfather fight? On horseback ? " one would ask her. 

' " He fought in various ways, on horseback and on foot, and 
in consequence he was General-in-Chief," she would answer, 
opening a cupboard and getting out a burning tablet which 
she called the " Ochakovsky smoke." According to her words, 
it appeared that this tablet grandfather brought from Ochakof. 
She would ignite a taper at the little lamp in front of the icons, 
and with it would light the tablet which smouldered with a 
pleasant scent. 

' Besides her devotion and honesty, I especially loved her 
because, with Anna Ivanovna, she was connected in my eyes 
with that mysterious side of my grandfather's life with the 
" Ochakovsky smoke." 

* Anna Ivanovna lived in retirement, but once or twice she 
visited the house, and I saw her. It was said that she was a 
hundred years old, and that she remembered PaigachefF. 1 She 
had very black eyes and one tooth. She was in that stage of 
old age which inspires children with fear. 

' Nurse Tatiana Philipovna, small, dusky, and with plump 
little hands, was the young assistant of our old nurse Annushka, 
whom I scarcely recall precisely, because at the time I was with 
Annushka I was conscious of myself only. And as I did not 
observe myself nor understand myself as I then was, so also I 
do not remember Annushka. 

* And as I did not look at myself, and don't remember how I 
looked, so I cannot recall to mind Annushka, but Dunechka's 
nurse, Eupraxia, with a little ball on her neck, is well preserved 
in my memory. 

'Nurse Tatiana Philipovna I remember because she was 
afterwards the nurse of my nieces and of my eldest son. She 

1 The leader of a widespread and bloody rebellion in the reign of 
Catherine II. Trans. 



MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD 49 

was one of those pathetic beings from among the people who so 
identify themselves with the families of their nurslings that 
they transfer all their interests to those families, so that their 
own relatives see in them only an opportunity for extortion 
or await the inheritance of the money they earned. Such have 
always spendthrift brothers, husbands, or sons. Such were, so 
far as I can remember, Tatiana Philipovna's husband and son. 
I remember how she painfully, quietly, and meekly died in the 
very place where I am now sitting writing these Reminiscences. 
Her brother, Nicolay Philipovich, was a coachman, whom we 
not only loved, but for whom, as gentlemen's children generally 
do, we felt a great reverence. He had peculiar thick boots; 
he always carried with him the pleasant smell of the stables, 
and his voice was tender and musical. 

' The butler, Vassili Trubetskoy, should be mentioned. He 
was a pleasant, kindly man, who evidently loved children, and 
therefore loved us, especially Seryozha, at whose house he after- 
wards served, and where he died. I remember the kind one~ 
sided smile of his beaming face with its wrinkles, and his neck, 
which we saw close, and his peculiar smell when he took us in 
his arms and seated us on the tray, (it was one of our great 
pleasures; "And me, now me!") and carried us about the 
pantry : a place mysterious in our eyes with its strange under- 
ground passage. One poignant reminiscence connected with 
him was his departure to Sherbachovka, an estate in the 
government of Kursk, inherited by my father from a relative. 
This, (Vassili's departure), happened during Yuletide, at the 
time when all the children and some of the household servants 
were playing at " Rublik " in the hall. I must say a word 
about those Yuletide amusements. They took place thus : all 
the household servants and there were many of them, about 
thirty, used to dress up, come into the house, play various 
games and dance to the accompaniment of the fiddle of old 
Gregory, who only appeared in the house on these occasions. 
It was very amusing. Those masquerading usually represented 
a bear with its leader, a goat, Turks and Turkish women, 
Tyrolese, brigands, peasant men and women. I remember how 
beautiful some of the characters appeared to me, and especially 
so Masha, the Turkish woman. Sometimes Auntie dressed us 
up also. Especially desirable to us was a belt with stones and 
a muslin towel, embroidered with silver and gold ; and I 

VOL. I. D 



50 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

thought myself very grand with moustaches painted with burnt 
cork. I remember that looking in the mirror at my face with 
black moustaches and eyebrows I could not refrain from a smile 
of delight, though I had to assume the fierce expression of a 
Turk. All these characters walked about the rooms and were 
treated to various refreshments. During one of the Yuletides 
of my earlier childhood all the Islenefs came to us dressed up : 
the father, who was my wife's grandfather, with his three sons 
and three daughters. They all had on costumes which appeared 
most extraordinary to us ; there was a toilet, there was a boot, 
there was a cardboard belt, and something else besides. The 
Islenefs, having driven thirty miles, changed dress in the village, 
and on entering our hall Islenef sat down to the piano and 
sang some verses he had invented to a tune which I can still 
remember. The verses were : " We have come here to con- 
gratulate you on the New Year; should we succeed in amusing 
you we shall be happy ! " This was all very extraordinary, and 
probably entertaining to the elders, but for us children the 
most amusing were the household servants. Such entertain- 
ments took place during Christmas and at New Year, some- 
times even later, up to the day of Baptism ; l but after New 
Year few people came and the amusements slackened. So 
it was on the day when Vassili was leaving for Scherbac- 
hovka. I remember we were sitting in a circle in the corner 
of the dimly-lighted hall on home-made chairs of imitation 
mahogany with leather cushions and playing at "Rublik." 
One of us was walking about searching for the rouble, whilst 
we, passing it on from hand to hand, were singing, " Pass on 
Rublik, pass on Rublik." I remember one of the servant girls 
kept singing these words with an especially pleasant and true 
voice. Suddenly the door of the pantry opened, and Vassili, 
buttoned up in an unusual way, without his tray and china, 
passed along the end of the hall into the study. Then only 
did I learn that Vassili was going as overseer to Scherbachovka. 
I understood it was a promotion, and was glad for Vassili, and 
at the same time I was not only sorry to part from him, to 
know that he would no longer be in the pantry and would no 
longer carry us on his tray, but I did not even understand, did 
not believe that such an alteration could take place. I became 
dreadfully and mysteriously sad, and the chant of "Pass on 

1 6th of January. Trans. 




W 



HIS BROTHER, NICOLENKA 51 

Rublik" grew pathetically touching. And when Vassili left 
my aunt, and with his dear one-sided smile approached us, and 
kissed us on the shoulder, I experienced for the first time horror 
and fear in the presence of the inconstancy of life, and pity and 
love towards dear Vassili. When I afterwards used to meet 
Vassili I saw in him merely a good or a bad overseer of my 
brother's, a man whom I respected, but there was no longer any 
trace of the former sacred brotherly human feeling. 

' In a mysterious way, incomprehensible to the human mind, 
the impressions of early childhood are preserved in one's 
memory, and not only are they preserved, but they grow in 
some unfathomed depth of the soul, like seed thrown on good 
ground, and after many years all of a sudden thrust their 
vernal shoots into God's world.' 1 

Such a seed-time in Tolstoy's early childhood were the days 
of his eldest brother Nicolenka's games with the younger 
brothers. His great influence on Tolstoy's life is referred to 
in his Reminiscences more than once, for example, in the stories 
about the Fanfaronof Hill, Ant Brothers, and the Green Wand. 

* Yes, the Fanfaronof Hill is one of the earliest, pleasantest, 
and most important memories. My eldest brother, Nicolenka, 
was six years older than I. He was consequently ten or 
eleven when I was four or five, namely at the time when he led 
us on to the Fanfaronof Hill. In our earlier youth we used to 
address him (I don't know how it happened) as "you." 2 He 
was a wonderful boy, and later a wonderful man. Turgenef 
used very truly to say about him that but for the lack of 
certain faults he would have been a great writer. For instance 
he was deficient in vanity, he was not in the least interested 
in what people thought of him. Whereas the qualities of a 
writer which he did possess were, fii-st of all, a fine artistic 
sense, an extremely developed sense of proportion, a good- 
natured, gay human, an extraordinary, inexhaustible imagina- 
tion, and a truthful and highly moral view of life, and all this 
without the slightest conceit. His imagination was such that 
he could during whole hours narrate ghost stories or humorous 
tales in the spirit of Mrs. Radcliffe without pause or hesitation, 
and with such vivid realisation of what he was narrating that 

1 From Tolstoy's draft Reminiscences. 

2 Instead of in the singular ' thou," as is usual in Russian between near 
relatives or friends. Trans. 



52 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

one forgot it was all invention. When he was not narrating 
or reading (he read a great deal) he used to draw. He almost 
invariably drew devils with horns and pointed moustaches, 
intertwined in the most varied attitudes and occupied in the 
most various ways. These drawings were also full of imagina- 
tion and humour. 

' Well, it was he who, when I and my brothers were, myself 
five years old, Mitenka six, Seryozha seven, announced to us 
that he possessed a secret by means of which, when it should be 
disclosed, all men would become happy : there would be no 
diseases, no troubles, no one would be angry with any one, all 
would love each other, all would become " Ant brothers." He 
probably meant " Moravian brothers," about whom he had 
heard and had been reading, but in our language they were 
" Ant brothers." l And I remember that the word Ant especi- 
ally pleased us, as reminding us of ants in an ant-hill. We 
even organised a game of ant-brothers which consisted in our 
sitting down under chairs sheltering ourselves with boxes, 
screening ourselves with handkerchiefs, and thus crouching in 
the dark, pressing ourselves against each other. I remember 
experiencing a special feeling of love and pathos and liking 
this game very much. The ant brotherhood was revealed to 
us, but the chief secret as to the way for all men to cease 
suffering any misfortune, to leave oft' quarrelling and being 
angry, and to become continuously happy, this secret, as he 
told us, was written by him on a green stick, which stick he 
had buried by the road on the edge of a certain ravine, at 
which spot, since my corpse must be buried somewhere, I have 
asked to be buried in memory of Nicolenka. Besides this 
little stick, there was also a certain Fanfaronof Hill up which 
he said he could lead us, if only we would fulfil all the ap- 
pointed conditions. These conditions were : first, to stand in 
a corner and not think of the white bear. I remember how 
I used to get into a corner and endeavour, but could not pos- 
sibly manage, not to think of the white bear. The second 
condition was to walk without wavering along a crack between 
the boards of the floor ; and the third, for a whole year not to 
see a hare either alive or dead or cooked ; and it was necessary 
to swear not to reveal these secrets to any one. He who 

1 The word for Ant in Russian is ' Mouravey,' whence the similarity. 
Trant. 



HIS BROTHER, SERGIUS 53 

should fulfil these conditions and others more difficult which 
Nicolenka was going to communicate later, would have his 
desire fulfilled, whatever it might be. We had to express 
our desires. Seryozha desired to be able to model horses and 
hens out of wax. Mitenka desired to be able to draw all kinds 
of things like an artist on a large scale. I could not devise 
anything but to be able to draw small pictures. All this, as 
it happens with children, was very soon forgotten and no one 
ascended the Fanfaronof Hill, but I remember the profound 
importance with which Nicolenka initiated us into these mys- 
teries, and our respect and awe in regard to the wonderful 
things which were revealed. But I have especially kept a 
strong impression of the " Ant Brotherhood " and the myste- 
rious green stick connected with it destined to make all men 
happy. 

' As I now conjecture, Nicolenka had probably read or heard 
of the Freemasons about their aspiration towards the happi- 
ness of mankind, and about the mysterious initiatory rites on 
entering their order ; he had probably also heard about the 
Moravian brothers, and linking all into one by his active 
imagination, his love to men, and his aptness to kindness, he 
invented all these tales, enjoyed them himself, and mystified us 
with them. 

' The ideals of ant- brothers lovingly cleaving to each other 
though not beneath two arm-chairs, curtained with handker- 
chiefs, but of all mankind under the wide dome of the sky, has 
remained the same for me. As then I believed that there 
existed a little green stick whereon was written that which 
could destroy all the evil in men and give them great welfare, 
so do I now also believe that such truth exists, and that it will 
be revealed to men and will give them all that it promises.' l 

Later on we shall refer to Tolstoy's memories of his brother 
Dmitri. Here we will quote another extract from his Remi- 
niscences concerning his brother Sergius, also relating to his 
early childhood. ' Mitenka was for me a companion, Nicolenka 
I respected, but Seryozha I enthusiastically admired and imi- 
tated. I loved him and wished to be like him ; I admired his 
handsome appearance, his singing he was always singing his 
drawing, his cheerful mirth, and especially, however strange it 
may be to say so, the spontaneity of his egotism. I always 
1 From Tolstoy's personal reminiscences. 



54 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

realised myself, was always conscious of myself, I always felt 
whether others 1 thoughts and feelings about me were just or 
not, and this spoilt my joy of life. This probably is why I 
especially liked in others the opposite feature, spontaneity of 
egotism. And for this I especially loved Seryozha. The word 
loved is not correct. I loved Nicolenka, but for Seryozha I was 
filled with admiration as for something quite apart and in- 
comprehensible to me. It was a human life, a very fine one, 
but completely incomprehensible to me, mysterious and there- 
fore specially attractive. 

*A few days ago he died, and in his last illness and his 
death he was to me as unfathomable and as dear as in our 
bygone days of childhood. In more advanced age, his latter 
days, he loved me more, valued my attachment, was proud of 
me, wished to agree with me, but could not, and remained the 
same as he had been, entirely original, altogether himself, 
handsome, high-spirited, proud, and above all and to such an 
extent a truthful and sincere man that I have never seen his 
like. He was what he was ; he concealed nothing, and did not 
desire to appear anything. 

' With Nicolenka I wished to associate, to talk, to think ; 
Seryozha I only wished to imitate. This imitation began in our 
first childhood. He took to keeping his own hens and chickens, 
and I did the same. This was perhaps my first insight into 
animal life. I remember chickens of various breeds grey, 
spotted, or tufted, how they used to run to us at our call, 
how we fed them and hated the big Dutch cock which 
maltreated them. Seryozha had begged these chickens for 
himself; I did the same in imitation of him. Seryozha used to 
draw and paint on long strips of paper (and as it appeared 
to me, wonderfully well) rows of hens and cocks of various 
colours, and I did the same but not so well. (In this I hoped 
to perfect myself by the means of the Fanfaronof Hill.) 
Seryozha, when the double doors were removed in spring, had 
the idea of feeding the hens through the keyhole in the door 
by means of long thin sausages of black and white bread, and 
I did the same.' l 

Let us add here a few more fragmentary reminiscences 
related by Tolstoy himself, which, like most of the stories of 
his early childhood, it is impossible to arrange in a chrono- 
1 From Tolstoy's draft Reminiscences. 




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TOLSTOY'S BROTHER-IN-LAW 55 

logical order, though it would be a pity to omit them, as they 
give some interesting traits descriptive of his childhood. 

' One childish memory of an insignificant event left a strong 
impression on me,' said Tolstoy. 'It was, I see it now, in 
our nursery rooms upstairs. Temeshof was sitting talking to 
Feodor Ivanovich. I do not remember why the conversation 
turned upon keeping the fasts, and Temeshof, the good-natured 
Temeshof, very quietly said : " My cook (or servant, I do not 
remember which,) took it into his head to eat meat during fast 
time. I sent him to be a soldier." 1 The reason why I now 
remember this is, that at the time it seemed to me something 
strange and incomprehensible. 

'Another event was the Perof inheritance. I remember a 
caravan, with horses and carts loaded high, which arrived from 
Nerucha, 2 when the lawsuit concerning this estate had been 
won, thanks to Glya Mitrovich. 

' He was a tall old man with long hair, addicted to fits of 
drinking, a former serf of the owner, and a great specialist, 
such as there used to be in olden times, in dealing with various 
cases that might lead to litigation. He directed the case, 
and in return he was kept until his death in Yasnaya 
Polyana. 

' Other memorable impressions are : the arrival of Peter 
Tolstoy, the father of my sister's husband, Valerian ; he used 
to come into the drawing-room in his dressing-gown ; we did 
not understand why, but later we learnt that it was because he 
was in the last stage of consumption. Another impression : 
the arrival of his brother, the famous traveller in America, 
Feodor Tolstoy. I remember how he drove up in a post- 
chaise, entered my father's study, and ordered his special dry 
French bread to be brought. He did not eat any other. At 
this time my brother Sergey was suffering from a very bad 
toothache. He asked what was the matter, and, having 
ascertained, said that he could cure the pain by magnetism. 
He entered the study and locked the door after him. In a 
few minutes he came out with two cambric pocket handker- 

1 In Russia, in the days of serfdom, the enlisting of a serf into the ranks 
for the fifteen years was regarded as the severest punishment short of 
flogging him to death. Trans. 

2 This estate of 900 acres which we received by inheritance was sold for 
the purpose of feeding the starving during the great famine of 1840. 



56 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

chiefs I remember they had a fancy violet edge and he gave 
the handkerchiefs, saying : " When he puts on this one the pain 
will cease, and this one is for him to sleep with.' 1 The hand- 
kerchiefs were taken, put on Seryozha, and we carried away 
and kept the impression that everything took place as he had 
said. 

' I remember his fine, bronzed face, shaven, save for thick 
white whiskers down to the corners of the mouth and similarly 
white curly hair. I should like to relate much about this 
extraordinary, guilty, and attractive man ! ' 

Here, unfortunately, these reminiscences stop short. 

Let us conclude this chapter on the childhood of Tolstoy 
with the poetic memory in his published story. 

' Happy, happy, irrevocable period of childhood ! How 
can one help loving and cherishing its memories? These 
memories refresh and elevate my soul and serve me as a source 
of my best enjoyments. . . . 

' After the prayer I rolled myself into my coverlet, and my 
heart felt light and cheerful. One dream chased another, but 
what were they about ? They were intangible, but filled with 
pure love and hope for bright happiness. I thought of Karl 
Ivanovich and his bitter fate, of the only man whom I knew 
to be unhappy, and I felt so sorry for him, and so loved him, 
that the tears gushed from my eyes, and I thought : God 
grant him happiness, and me an opportunity of helping him, 
and alleviating his sorrow ; I was ready to sacrifice everything 
for him. Then I stuck my favourite china toy a hare or a 
dog into the corner of the down pillow, and I was happy 
seeing how comfortable and snug the toy was there. I also 
prayed the Lord that He would give happiness to everybody, 
and that all should be satisfied, and that to-morrow should be 
good weather for the outing, and then I turned on my other 
side, my thoughts and dreams became mixed and disturbed, 
and I fell softly, quietly asleep, my face wet with tears. 

' Will that freshness, carelessness, need of love, and strength 
of faith, which one possesses in childhood, ever return ? What 
time can be better than that when all the best virtues 
innocent merriment and limitless need of love are the only 
incitements in life ? 

' Where are all those ardent prayers, where is the best gift 
those tears of contrition ? The consoling angel came on his 



MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD 57 

pinions, with a smile wiped off those tears, and fanned sweet 
dreams to the uncorrupted imagination of the child. 

'Is it possible life has left such heavy traces in my heart 
that these tears and that ecstasy have for ever gone from me ? 
Is it possible, nothing but memories are left ? "" l 

1 Childhood, pp. 60-63. The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. i. 
pp. 60-63. 



CHAPTER V 
BOYHOOD 

Removal to Moscow Father's death Its influence on Tolstoy Grandmother's 
death Prosper St. Thomas His influence St. Thomas' opinion of 
Tolstoy's gifts Division of the family Countess A. I. Osten-Saken as 
guardian Tolstoy's recollections of her Unhappy marriage Madness 
of her husband The adopted daughter Pashenka The moral physiog- 
nomy of the Countess The housemaid Gasha Father's jokes The 
death of the Countess in the Optin Convent The second guardian 
Pelageya Ilyinishna Yushkof Removal to Kazan Boats, horse carts 
Serfs Life during the journey The husband of Pelageya Ilyi- 
nishna, Vladimir Ivanovich Yushkof Pelageya Ilyinishna's death 
Inner development of Tolstoy during his boyhood His self-conscious- 
ness and shyness His opinion on his own appearance Love for his 
brothers Seryozha Ivin or the Count Alexander Pushkin The change 
in his views on men The beginning of philosophic reasoning The 
ascetic experiment The epicurean period The reasoning on symmetry 
and eternity Scepticism, non-existence Friendship with Nekhludof- 
Dyakof The adoration of virtue Religious education The destruc- 
tion of outward religious ideas Recollection of it in Confession The 
list of literary works which influenced Tolstoy. Several episodes of his 
boyhood narrated by Tolstoy and his relatives : Mitka Kopilof Christmas 
tree at Shipofs' Astashof's garden Fall from the window Cutting of 
the eyebrows Race with a troika Peculiarities Poor learning 
Jealousy The flying experiment. Episodes as related in the books for 
reading : The old horse A lesson in riding. 

WITH the beginning of Tolstoy's boyhood came the time for 
the more serious education of his elder brothers, Nicolay and 
Sergey. For this purpose, in autumn 1836, the Tolstoy family 
moved to Moscow, and settled down at Pluschikha, in a house 
belonging to one Scherbachof. This house is still in use, and 
stands back opposite St. Mary the Virgin's Church, Smolensky, 
its facade forming an acute angle with the direction of the 
street. 

In this house they lived during the winter of 1836-7, and 
after their father's death they remained there for the summer. 

In the summer of 1837 Tolstoy's father went to Tula on 
business, and in the street on his way to the house of one 
Temeshof, a friend, all at once he staggered, fell on the ground, 

58 



DEATH OF HIS FATHER 5d 

and died of apoplexy. Some people said he was poisoned by 
his man-servant, because, though his money disappeared, yet 
some unnegotiable bonds he had on him were brought to the 
Tolstoys in Moscow by an unknown beggar. 

His body was taken by his sister Alexandra and his eldest 
son Nicolay to Yasnaya Polyana, in Tula, where he was buried. 

His father's death was the event which left the deepest 
impression on Tolstoy in his childhood. He used to say that 
this death called forth in him a feeling of religious awe, bring- 
ing the question of life and death vividly before him for the 
first time. As he was not present when his father died, he 
vrould not believe for a long time that he was no longer alive. 
For a long time afterwards, if he looked at the faces of strangers 
in the streets of Moscow, he not only fancied, but was almost 
certain, that he might at any moment come upon his father 
alive. And this mixed attitude of hope and unbelief called 
forth in him a special feeling of tenderness. After their 
father's death the Tolstoys remained for the summer in 
Moscow, and this was the first and last time that Tolstoy 
spent a summer in town. 

They sometimes made excursions to places near the city in 
a carriage drawn by four bay horses driven abreast, according 
to custom. These occasions, on which they were unattended 
by a postboy, made a strong impression on him attributable, 
it may be, not only to the beauty of Kuntsef-Neskuchny, but 
in some measure to escaping from the unpleasant smells emitted 
by the factories which even then were disfiguring the suburbs 
of Moscow. 

'The death of her son quite killed my grandmother, 
Pelageya Nicolayevna ; she wept perpetually, and every even- 
ing ordered the door into the next room to be opened, and 
said that she saw her son there and talked with him. Some- 
times she asked with horror of her daughters : " Is it really, 
really true that he is no longer ? " She died at the end of nine 
months from a broken heart/ 

His grandmother's death reminded Tolstoy anew of the 
religious import of life and death, it may be without his 
being fully conscious of it, but the impression was there, and 
that a strong one. His grandmother suffered for a long time, 
till at last she was seized with dropsy, and Tolstoy remembers 
the horror he felt when he was admitted to take leave of her, 



60 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

and how she, lying in her lofty white bed, all in white, looked 
round with difficulty on her grandchildren, and without making 
a motion let them kiss her white hand which had swollen up 
like a pillow. But, as is usual with children, the sense of fear 
and pity in the presence of death was soon succeeded by play- 
fulness, thoughtlessness, and love of mischief. On one holiday, 
little Vladimir Milutin, a friend of Tolstoy's of the same age, 
came to stay in the house ; it was he who made to the Tolstoys 
while they were still in the gymnasium the remarkable state- 
ment though the information did not make a strong impres- 
sion that there was no God. 

Just before dinner the wildest and strangest merrymaking 
was going on in the children's room, in which Sergey, Dmitri, 
and Lyof were taking part, though Milutin and Nicolay had 
more sense than the rest and kept aloof. The fun consisted 
in burning paper in pots behind a partition where the commode 
stood. It is difficult to imagine where all the amusement was, 
but no doubt the sport was greatly enjoyed. All of a sudden 
in the midst of the merrymaking, the light-haired, wiry, and 
energetic little tutor, St. Thomas, described in Boyhood as 
St. Jerome, came in with a quick step, and, without paying 
any attention to their doings, and without scolding them, 
said to them, with the lower jaw of his white face trembling : 
" Votre grand? mere est morte ! " 

' I remember, 1 related Tolstoy, ' how at that time new 
jackets of black material, bound with white braid, were made 
for all of us. It was dreadful to see the undertaker's work- 
men hurrying about the house, and then the coffin brought 
with a lid covered with glazed brocade, and my grandmother's 
severe face with its crooked nose, in a white cap, with a white 
kerchief on her neck, lying high in the coffin on the table, and 
it was piteous to see the tears of our aunts and of Pashenka, 
but at the same time the new braided jackets and the soothing 
attitude taken towards us by those around gratified us. I do 
not remember why we were removed to the aisle during the 
funeral, and I remember how pleasant it was to me to overhear 
a conversation of some gossiping female guests near us, who 
said : " Completely orphans, the father has only just died, and 
now the grandmother is gone too." ' 

Tolstoy has mixed recollections of good and evil about 
Porsper St. Thomas, the French tutor. 



THE COUNTESS OSTEN-SAKEN 61 

' I do not now remember for what,' says Tolstoy in his 
Reminiscences, * but it was for something utterly undeserving 
of punishment that St. Thomas first locked me up in a room 
and secondly threatened to flog me. Hereupon I had a 
dreadful feeling of anger, indignation, and disgust, not only 
towards St. Thomas himself, but towards the violence which 
it was intended to inflict upon me. Very likely this incident 
was the cause of the dreadful horror and repulsion towards 
every kind of violence which I have experienced all my life. 1 1 

However, the tutor, St. Thomas, watched attentively the 
manifestation of gifts in his little pupil. He probably had 
noticed something extraordinary in the boy, for he used to 
say about him : ' Ce petit a une tete, c'est un petit Maliere? 2 

After the death of Tolstoy's grandmother, complicated 
transactions in connection with the Court of Wards making 
it imperative that expenses should be cut down, part of the 
family returned to the estates, namely, Dmitri, Lyof, and 
Marie, with their aunt, Tatiana Alexandrovna Yergolsky. 
Here the children's tutors were replaced by new German 
teachers and Russian students from theological seminaries. 
Their guardian was the Countess Alexandra Ilyinishna Osten- 
Saken. 

Of this remarkable woman Tolstoy thus writes in his 
memoirs : 

' My aunt Alexandra Ilyinishna was very early given in 
marriage in St. Petersburg to a wealthy Count Osten-Saken 
of the Baltic Provinces. The match appeared very brilliant, 
but from the conjugal point of view it terminated very sadly for 
my aunt, although perhaps the consequences of this marriage 
were beneficial to her soul. Aunt Aline, as we called her in 
the family, was probably very attractive, with her large blue 
eyes and the meek expression of her pale face, as she is depicted 
in a very good portrait taken when she was a girl of sixteen. 
Soon after the marriage, Osten-Saken went with his young 
wife to his great estate in the Baltic Provinces, and there he 
increasingly manifested his diseased mental condition, which at 
first showed itself only in a very marked and causeless jealousy. 
During the very first year of the marriage, when my aunt was 
already nearing childbirth, the husband's malady increased to 

1 An interpolation by Tolstoy when looking through the MS. 

2 From Countess S. A. Tolstoy's Reminiscences. 



62 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

such an extent that spells of complete aberration used to take 
possession of him, during which he thought that his foes, 
desirous of carrying away his wife, were surrounding him, and 
that his only way of escape was in flight. This was in summer. 
Having got up early in the morning, he announced to his wife 
that the only means of safety was to flee, that he had ordered 
the calesh, that they were to start immediately, and that she 
must get ready. And indeed the calesh drove up, he placed 
my aunt inside, and ordered the coachman to drive as quickly 
as possible. On the way he got two pistols out of a box, 
cocked the trigger, and having given one to my aunt, told her 
that if his foes found out about his flight they would catch 
him up, and then they were lost, and the only thing which 
would then remain for them to do would be to kill each 
other. My frightened and bewildered aunt took the pistol 
and tried to dissuade her husband, but he did not listen to 
her, and only kept turning round, anticipating pursuit, and 
urging the coachman to speed. Unfortunately, out of a lane 
converging upon the high-road there appeared a carriage. 
He called out that all was lost, and ordered my aunt to shoot 
herself, and ^himself shot point-blank into my aunt's breast. 
Startled by what he had done, and seeing that the carriage 
which had frightened him had turned in another direction, 
he stopped, lifted my wounded and bleeding aunt from the 
carriage, put her down on the road, and galloped away. 
Fortunately for my aunt, some peasants soon came across her, 
raised her, and drove her to the pastor, who bound up her 
wounds as well as he could, and sent for the doctor. The 
wound was in the right side of the chest, passing completely 
through the body (my aunt showed me the scar remaining), 
but was not serious. When she was recovering, and still 
lying enceinte at the pastor's house, her husband having come 
to himself, hurried to her, and after explaining to the doctor 
how she was unfortunately wounded, he sought an interview 
with her. This interview was dreadful. He, cunning as are 
all the mentally diseased, pretended repentance for his act, and 
concern only about her health. Having remained with her 
some time talking quite rationally about everything, he profited 
by a moment when they were left alone together to attempt to 
fulfil his intention. As if concerned with her health, he asked 
her to show him her tongue, and when she put it out, he 



THE COUNTESS OSTEN-SAKEN 63 

caught hold of it with one hand, and with the other brought 
out a razor he had in readiness, with the intention of cutting 
the tongue oft. A struggle ensued she tore herself away from 
him, screamed ; people rushed in, seized him and led him away. 
'Thenceforth his insanity took a thoroughly definite form, 
and he lived for a long time in some institution for lunatics, 
having no communication with my aunt. Soon after this, my 
aunt was removed to her parents 1 house in St. Petersburg, and 
there she gave birth to a dead child. For fear of the con- 
sequences of grief at her child's death, she was told that it 
was alive, and a girl who was at the same time born of a 
servant known to the family, the wife of a court cook, was 
brought to her. This girl, Pashenka, who lived with us, was 
already grown up when I begin myself to remember. I do not 
know when the history of her birth was disclosed to Pashenka, 
but when I knew her she was already aware she was not my 
aunt's daughter. Aunt Alexandra Ilyinishna, after what had 
happened to her, lived first with her parents, and then at my 
father's. After his death she was our guardian, but when I 
was twelve she died in the convent of Optin Pustin. 

* My aunt was a truly religious woman. Her favourite 
occupation was reading the lives of the saints, conversing with 
pilgrims, crazy devotees, monks and nuns, of whom some 
always lived in our house, while others only visited my aunt. 
Amongst the constant residents was the nun Marya Gerassi- 
movna, my sister's godmother, who had in her youth under- 
taken pilgrimages in the character of " crazy Ivanushka." 
She was my sister's godmother, because my mother had pro- 
mised this to her, should she by prayer obtain from God for 
my mother a daughter, a boon which my mother greatly desired 
after bearing four sons. A daughter was born, and Marya 
Gerassimovna became her godmother, living partly in the 
Tula convent and partly at our house. 

* Aunt Alexandra Ilyinishna was -not only outwardly religious, 
keeping the fasts, praying much, and associating with people 
of saintly life, such as was in her time the hermit Leonid in 
the Optin Pustin, but she herself lived a truly Christian life, 
endeavouring not only to avoid all luxury and acceptance of 
service, but also, as much as possible, to serve others. She 
never had any money, because she gave away all she had to 
those who asked. 



64 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

' The maid Gasha, who after my grandmother's death passed 
over to my aunt, has related to me how during their Moscow 
life my aunt, in going to Matins, used carefully to pass on 
tiptoe by her sleeping maid, and herself discharged all the 
functions which according to the then received custom should 
have been done by the maid. In food and dress she was as 
simple and unexacting as it is possible to imagine. However 
unpleasant it is to me to say so, I remember from childhood 
the specific acrid smell connected with my aunt, probably 
due to negligence in her toilet, and this was that graceful, 
poetic Aline with beautiful blue eyes who used to like to read 
and copy French verses, who played on the harp, and always 
had great success at the biggest balls ! I remember how 
she was always as affectionate and kind to all the most 
important men and women as to nuns and pilgrims. I 
remember how her brother-in-law, Yushkof, liked to make 
fun of her, and how he once sent from Kazan a big box 
directed to her. In the box another box was found, in that 
one a third, and so on until there appeared quite a tiny one, 
in which, wrapped in cotton-wool, lay a china monk. I 
remember how my father laughed good-naturedly, showing 
this parcel to my aunt. I also remember my father relating 
at table how she, according to his assertion, with her cousin 
Molchanova, ran after a priest whom they reverenced that 
they might get his benediction. My father described this, 
comparing it to coursing, saying that Molchanova cut the 
priest off from the gates before the altar ; he then threw 
himself towards the north gates, she in pursuit made a miss, 
and here it was that Aline caught him. I remember her dear, 
good-natured laugh and face shining with pleasure. The 
religious feeling which filled her soul was evidently so im- 
portant to her, so much higher than all the rest, that she 
could not be angry or annoyed by anything, she could not 
attribute to worldly matters the importance which is generally 
given to them. She took care of us when she was our guardian, 
but all she did did not absorb her soul, all was subdued to the 
service of God as she understood that service. 1 1 

As has been stated before, the younger children, i.e. Dmitri, 
Marie, and Leo, lived with Aunt Tatiana in the country 
after their grandmother's death, and the elder, Nicolay and 

1 From Tolstoy's draft Reminiscences. 



THE COUNTESS'S DEATH 65 

Sergey, remained with their guardian, Alexandra Ilyinishna, 
in Moscow. In the summer the whole family met at Yasnaya 
Polyana. Thus passed the years 1838-9, and the year 1840 
began a year of famine; the crops were so poor that the 
Tolstoys had to buy corn to feed their serfs, and the means 
for this purpose were obtained from the sale of the Neruch 
estate which they had inherited. 

The food for the horses was cut short and the free supply 
of oats was stopped. Tolstoy recollects how sorry the children 
were for their favourite horses, and how they secretly ran to 
the peasants' field of oats and, without being aware of the 
crime they were committing, plucked the oat steins, gathered 
the grain in their skirts, and treated their horses to it. 

In the autumn of 1840 the whole family moved to Moscow, 
where they spent the winter of 1840-41 ; for the summer 
they returned to Yasnaya again. In the autumn of 1841 
their guardian, the Countess A. I. Osten-Saken, died. 

She died in the convent Optina Pustin. During her stay 
there the children remained in Yasnaya Polyana with their 
aunt Tatiana. But when the news reached her that Alexandra 
Ilyinishna was on her deathbed, Tatiana went to the convent. 

After her death her sister Pelageya Ilyinishna, who was 
then the wife of V. I. Yushkof, a Kazan landowner, arrived 
at Moscow from Kazan. Aunt Tatiana and all the children 
came there in the autumn. The elder brother of Tolstoy, 
who at that time was already a student of the first year in 
the university, greeted his aunt with the words : ' Ne nous 
abandonnez pas, chere tante, U ne nous reste que vous au 
mo-nde? Her eyes filled with tears and she made up her 
mind ' se sacrifier? What she meant by this, no one knew; 
the result was that she at once began preparations for a 
journey to Kazan. For this purpose she ordered some boats, 
which she loaded with everything she could carry away from 
Yasnaya Polyana. All the servants had to follow carpenters, 
tailors, locksmiths, chefs, upholsterers, &c. Moreover, to each 
of the four brothers Tolstoy was attached a serf of about the 
same age, as man-servant. One of these was Vanyusha, who 
afterwards accompanied Tolstoy to the Caucasus, and who now 
spends his old age at his daughter's house in Tula. 

At this time Tolstoy was twelve years old. Masters and 
servants started for the journey in autumn, and in numerous 

VOL. i. E 



66 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

carriages and other vehicles crept slowly from Tula to Kazan. 
During the journey something like regular habits were main- 
tained. Sometimes they stopped in the fields, sometimes in 
the woods, bathed, walked about and gathered mushrooms. 
The parting with Aunt Tatiana Alexandrovna was distressing, 
but she had never been on friendly terms with Aunt Pelageya 
Ilyinishna, and, after the death of Alexandra Ilyinishna, she 
settled with her sister, Helena Alexandrovna Tolstoy, in the 
villlage of Pokrovskoye. The want of a good understanding 
between Tatiana Alexandrovna and Pelageya Ilyinishna arose 
from the fact that the husband of the latter had been in love 
with Tatiana in his youth and made her an offer of marriage, 
which she rejected. Pelageya Ilyinishna could never forgive 
her husband's love for the other and hated her for it, though 
in public they appeared to be on thoroughly friendly terms. 

Pelageya's husband, V. I. Yushkof, a retired colonel of 
hussars, has left behind him in Kazan the memory of an 
educated, witty, and kind-hearted man, who loved jokes and 
lively conversation, and such he remained until his death. 

Pelageya herself was remembered in Kazan as a very kind, 
but not particularly clever woman. She was very pious, and 
after the death of her husband in 1869 she retired to the 
convent Optin Pustin. Later on she lived in a convent in 
Tula and finally moved to Yasnaya Polyana, where she fell 
ill and died. 

All through her long life she strictly observed all the rites 
of the orthodox church; but in her eightieth year, before 
her death, which she greatly feared, she declined to take the 
communion and grew angry with other people on account 
of the misery which she suffered herself in the presentiment 
of her end. 

Let us now point out certain stages in the moral develop- 
ment of children which we find in such of Tolstoy's novels 
as are descriptive of that period of life, and which carry, 
in our opinion, a real autobiographical character. 

One trait often observable in children, and which perhaps 
existed in Tolstoy himself in a high degree, is extreme shy- 
ness the outcome of self-consciousness. 

People very often make a distinction between these two 
characteristics self-consciousness and shyness. They find 
fault with the one and encourage the other, or vice versa, 




V. I. YUSHKOF 
LEO TOLSTOY'S L'NCLE 



HIS BROTHER, SERGIUS 67 

but these traits are merely the reverse sides of the same 
medal, and are related to one another as cause and effect. 
A man is often shy because he is self-conscious, and as the 
shyness increases, it intensifies his self-consciousness. The 
former manifests itself on any trifling ground, for instance 
in consequence of misgivings as to one's appearance. This 
is how Tolstoy speaks of it in himself under the character 
of Nicolenka: 

' I had the oddest conceptions of beauty I even regarded 
Carl Ivanovich as the first beau in the world ; but I knew 
full well that I was not good-looking, and in this opinion 
was not mistaken. Therefore, every reference to my looks 
was offensive to me. . . . 

' Moments of despair frequently came over me. I imagined 
that there was no happiness in the world for a man with such 
a broad nose, fat lips, and small gray eyes, as mine were. I 
asked God to do a miracle, and to change me into a handsome 
boy, and everything I then had, and everything I should ever 
have in the future, I would gladly have given for a pretty 
face.' i 

As soon as man turns his glance upon himself, a conflict 
of most varied feelings rises in him. If he is a man of 
intelligence and morality, he is bound to feel dissatisfaction, 
and the feeling must call forth a longing for improvement 
in things external, as well as in his own heart. As he has 
no power to improve the former, e.g. to make his nose more 
shapely, therefore it is perhaps painful to think about the 
matter. But, if the mind be strong, it will lead one to the 
path of inward self-perfecting, and thereby open the way of 
endless progress. 

This is exactly the conflict of feeling and thought which 
we can follow in the child, boy, and youth presented to us 
by Tolstoy in Nicolenka Irtenef. In describing his develop- 
ment the author endows him with his own deep, rich inner 
world. 

In a conversation with one of his friends, Tolstoy said 
that his early youth was spent under the influence of his 
brother Seryozha, and in attempts to imitate him. This 
brother he specially loved and admired. In somewhat riper 

1 Childhood, pp. 74, 75. The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. i. 
J. M. Dent & Co. 



68 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

years he was chiefly influenced by his brother Nicolay, whom 
he loved, not indeed so passionately as he did Seryozha, but 
still very dearly, and whom he respected more. 1 

Glancing through the novel Childhood, we find the account 
of a similar feeling in the description of the love of Nicolenka 
Irtenef for Seryozha Ivin. 

These are the glowing words in which he depicts this 
affection : 

* I felt unconquerably attracted by him. It was enough for 
my happiness to see him, and all the powers of my soul were 
concentrated upon this desire. When I passed three or four 
days without seeing him, I grew lonely, and felt sad enough to 
weep. All my dreams, waking and sleeping, were of him. 
When I lay down to sleep, I wished that I might dream of 
him ; when I closed my eyes, I saw him before me, and I 
treasured this vision as my greatest pleasure. I did not dare 
entrust this feeling to any one in the world, I valued it so. 

' Perhaps he was tired of feeling my restless eyes continually 
directed towards him, or he did not feel any sympathy for me, 
but he visibly preferred to play and to talk with Volodya, 
rather than with me. I was, nevertheless, satisfied, wished for 
nothing, demanded nothing, and was ready to sacrifice every- 
thing for him.' 

' Under the name of the Ivins, I have described the Counts 
Pushkin boys, one of whom, Alexander, has just died, the 
one whom I liked so much in childhood. Our favourite game 
was playing at soldiers.' 2 

Tolstoy thus depicts the turning-point in his development, 
the transition from childhood to boyhood : 

* My reader, have you ever happened to notice at a certain 
stage of your life how your view of things completely changed, 
as though all the things which you used to know, heretofore, 
suddenly turned a different, unfamiliar side to you ? Some 
such moral transformation took place in me for the first time 
during our journey, and from this I count the beginning of 
my boyhood. 

4 1 obtained for the first time a clear idea of the fact that 
we, that is our family, were not alone in the world, that not 
all interests centred about us, and there was another life for 

1 From a private letter. 

2 Interpolation by Tolstoy in the MS. of this work. 



MEMORIES OF BOYHOOD 69 

people who had nothing in common with us, who did not care 
for us, and who even did not have any idea of our existence. 
To be sure, I knew it before ; but I did not know it in the 
same manner as now, I was not conscious of it, did not 
feel it.' 1 

At an early age the child had taken up philosophic argu- 
ment, and even in his boyhood the path is foreshadowed by 
which his powerful mind was to be developed and to influence 
so many others. 

' People will hardly believe what the favourite and most 
constant subjects of my thoughts were during the period of 
my boyhood, for they were inconsistent with my age and 
station. But, according to my opinion, the inconsistency 
between a man's position and his moral activity is the surest 
token of truth. . . . 

' At one time it occurred to me that happiness did not 
depend on external causes, but on our relation to them ; that 
a man who is accustomed to bear suffering could not be un- 
happy. To accustom myself to endurance, I would hold for 
five minutes at a time the dictionaries of Tatishchev in my 
outstretched hands, though it caused me unspeakable pain, 
or I would go into the lumber-room and strike my bare back 
so painfully with a rope that the tears would involuntarily 
appear in my eyes. 

' At another time, I happened to think that death awaited 
me at any hour and at any minute, and wondering how it was 
people had not seen this before me, I decided that man cannot 
be happy otherwise than by enjoying the present and not 
caring for the future. Under the influence of this thought, 
I abandoned my lessons for two or three days, and did nothing 
but lie on my bed and enjoy myself reading some novel and 
eating honey cakes which I bought with my last money. 

* At another time, as I was standing at the blackboard and 
drawing various figures upon it with a piece of chalk, I was 
suddenly struck by the idea, Why is symmetry pleasant to 
the eye ? What is symmetry ? It is an implanted feeling, 
I answered myself. What is it based upon ? Is symmetry to 
be found in everything in life. Not at all. Here is life, 
and I drew an oval figure on the board. After life the soul 

i The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. i. p. 158. J. M. Dent & Co. 
London. 



70 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

passes into eternity. Here is eternity, and I drew, on one 
side of the figure, a line to the very edge of the board. Why 
is there no such line on the other side of the figure ? Really, 
what kind of eternity is that which is only on one side ? We 
have no doubt existed before this life, although we have lost 
the recollection of it. ... 

* By none of these philosophic considerations was I so 
carried away as by scepticism, which at one time led me to 
a condition bordering on insanity. I imagined that nothing 
existed in the whole world outside of me, that objects were no 
objects, but only images which appeared whenever I turned 
my attention to them, and that these images would immedi- 
ately disappear when I no longer thought of them. In short, 
I held the conviction with Schelling that objects do not exist, 
but only my relation to them. There were moments when, 
under the influence of this fixed idea, I reached such a degree 
of absurdity that I sometimes turned in the opposite direction, 
hoping to take nothingness by surprise, where I was not.' l 

Boyhood ends by a description of Nicolenka Irtenef's friend- 
ship with Nekhludof. 2 

The conclusion of this novel expresses in a few words that 
ideal of man which Tolstoy has sought and followed all his life, 
and which he still seeks in the sunset of his days. 

* Of course, under the influence of Nekhludof I involun- 
tarily appropriated his point of view, the essence of which was 
an ecstatic worship of the ideal of virtue, and the conviction 
that a man's destiny is continually to perfect himself. At that 
time it seemed a practicable affair to correct humanity at large, 
to destroy all human vices and misfortunes and therefore it 
looked easy and simple to correct oneself, to appropriate to 
oneself all virtues and be happy.' 3 

It is evident that this tendency towards abstract thought, 
this timidity and shyness, this striving after an ideal that 
all these qualities manifested in the child were the primitive 
elements which gradually formed the harmonious soul of the 
artist- thinker. We now see the full bloom of these spiritual 
germs which were planted in Tolstoy's boyhood. 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. i. pp. 219-221. 
4 The material for the description of this friendship I owe to my later 
triendship with Dyakof, during the last year of my university life at Kazan. 
1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. i. J. M. Dent & Co. 



RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 71 

Brought up in a patriarchally-aristocratic and, in its way, 
religious atmosphere, Tolstoy, in his childhood, with his 
responsive soul, absorbed all he could and was sincerely reli- 
gious. Hints of this we see in Childhood. But this ' habitual ' 
religiousness fell away at the first breeze of rationalism. 

He speaks thus in his Confession about his religious educa- 
tion, given as it was in accordance with the views of those days : 
' I was christened and educated in the faith of the Orthodox 
Greek Church ; I was taught it in my childhood, and I learned 
it in my youth. Nevertheless, at eighteen years of age, when I 
quitted the university, I had discarded all belief in everything 
that I had been taught. To judge by what I can now re- 
member, I could never have had a very serious belief; it must 
have been a kind of trust in this teaching, based on a trust in 
my teachers and elders, and a trust, moreover, not very firmly 
grounded. 

' I remember once, in my eleventh year, a boy, now long 

since dead, Vladimir M , a pupil in a gymnasium, spent 

a Sunday with us, and brought us the news of the last dis- 
covery in the gymnasium, namely, that there was no God, and 
that all we were taught on the subject was a mere invention. 
This was in 1838. I remember well how interested my elder 
brothers were in this news. I was admitted to their delibera- 
tions, and we all eagerly accepted the theory as something 
particularly attractive and possibly quite true.' 1 

But of course this rationalism could not shake the founda- 
tions of his soul. These foundations withstood terrible life- 
storms and brought him to the path of truth. 

Tolstoy gives interesting information concerning those 
literary works which, as far as he remembers, had great in- 
fluence on his moral development during his childhood and 
boyhood, i.e. up to about fourteen years of age. Here is the 
list of the works: 

THE DEGREE 

THE TITLES. OF INFLUENCE. 

The Story of Joseph, from the Bible .... Powerful. 
Thousand and One Night Talei : The Forty Thieves, 

Prince Kamaralzaman ...... Great. 

The Slack Fowl, by Pogorelsky Very great. 

Russian Legends: Dobrinya Nikitich, Ilya Muromets, 

Alyosha Popovich Powerful. 

Popular Tales, Pushkin's Verses : Napoleon . . Great. 

1 How I Came to Believe, p. 5. 



72 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

We shall now give a few episodes from Tolstoy's boyhood, 
partly written down from his own words, partly gathered from 
his relatives, but also borrowed from other sources which have 
already appeared in print, and which we have ourselves edited. 
In doing as above mentioned, we shall make a selection, being 
guided therein by authentic information which is in our posses- 
sion. It is impossible to arrange the stories in a chronological 
order. 

' It was quite at the beginning of our Moscow life, during 
my father's lifetime, 1 Tolstoy once observed in describing his 
reminiscences, ' that we had a pair of very spirited horses of 
our own breeding. My father's coachman was Mitka Kopilof. 
He was also my father's groom, a good horseman, sportsman, 
and excellent coachman, and, above all, an invaluable postillion. 
He was invaluable in this respect that a boy cannot manage 
spirited horses and an elderly man is too heavy and not suit- 
able for a postillion, so that Mitka combined the rare qualities 
necessary for the purpose, which were : small stature, lightness 
strength, and agility. I remember once the phaeton was 
brought to the door for my father, and the horses bolted out 
of the yard gate. Some one shouted, " The Count's horses 
have run away ! " Pashenka was overcome. My aunts rushed 
to my grandmother to reassure her, but it turned out that my 
father had not yet entered the carriage, and Mitka cleverly 
arrested the horses and returned into the yard. 

' Well, it was this same Mitka who, after the reduction 
of our expenses, was given freedom on ransom. Rich mer- 
chants competed in endeavouring to engage his services, and 
would have given him a big salary, as he already flaunted 
silk shirts and velvet jackets. It so happened that the turn 
came for his brother to be enlisted as a soldier, and his father, 
already aged, summoned Mitka home to do labourer's work for 
the master. And this small-sized, elegant Dmitri in a month's 
time became transformed into a modest peasant, in bast shoes, 
working for the landlord, and cultivating his own two allot- 
ments, mowing, ploughing, and, in general, doing all the heavy 
peasant's task of that time. And all this was done without 
the slightest murmur, with the consciousness that this should 
be so, and could not be otherwise.' 

This was one of the events that fostered that love and respect 
for the people which Tolstoy used to feel even in childhood. 



LOVE FOR THE PEOPLE 73 

Here are two episodes which Tolstoy related to me, and 
which, according to his words, planted in his youthful mind 
germs of doubt and dissatisfaction with the injustice and 
cruelty of those very people whom he still regarded as his 
' elders, 1 and who always appeared to him as invested with a 
certain kind of authority. The authority of these people was 
being undermined even then. 

While still a child, he was shown the unfairness, the wor- 
ship of appearances and the fashionable contempt for every- 
thing that is modest, the exhibition of which is so painful 
to childhood and directs the little ones especially to serious 
thoughts and promotes the development of their spiritual 
perception. 

One illustration of the above was furnished by an incident 
connected with the Christmas-tree at Shipof s to which the 
Tolstoy children were invited, as they were related to the 
family. They had just lost their father and their grand- 
mother and were orphans, cared for by an aunt who was in 
rather poor circumstances, and hence they did not possess 
much attraction or importance in fashionable society. 

To the same Christmas-tree were invited the princes Gor- 
chakof, nephews of the then Minister of War, and the Tolstoys 
observed with annoyance the difference which was made in the 
choice of presents for them and for the other more honoured 
guests ; the Tolstoys received presents of cheap wooden things, 
while the others had magnificent and expensive toys. 

Another case took place in Moscow. 

Once they went for a walk with their German tutor. 
Tolstoy, who was then nine or ten years old, his brothers and 
a girl named Yuzenka, a daughter of the French governess, 
who lived with their neighbours the Islenefs, were amongst the 
children. Yuzenka was a very good-looking and attractive 
girl. While walking along Bolshaya Bronnaya Street, they 
found themselves near a garden gate leading to Polyakof's 
house. The gate was not shut and they entered with some 
hesitation, not knowing what would happen ; the garden 
seemed to them of an unusual beauty. There was a pond with 
boats, flags and flowers, small bridges, paths, bowers, &c. ; 
they walked round the garden as if it was enchanted, till they 
were met by a gentleman who appeared to be Astashof, the 
owner of the place. He greeted them affably and invited 



74 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

them to look round, gave them a row in a boat, and was so 
amiable that they thought their presence actually gave pleasure 
to the owner of the garden. Encouraged by their good 
fortune, they decided to visit this garden again in a few days. 
When they entered the gate they were stopped by an old man, 
who asked whom they wanted to see. They gave their surname 
and begged to be announced to the master. Yuzenka was not 
with them. The old man returned with the answer that the 
garden belonged to a private individual and the public was 
forbidden to enter. They went away disappointed, and were 
unable to understand why their friend's pretty face should have 
made so great a difference in the attitude of strangers towards 
them. 

Here are a few stories which indicate the originality, not 
to say eccentricity, of his boyish character. 

* We were once assembled at dinner, 1 said Marie (Tolstoy's 
sister) to me; 'it was in Moscow, during grandmother's ill- 
ness, when etiquette was adhered to and everybody had to 
appear in good time before grandmother came, and wait for 
her, so that all were surprised to see that Lyovochka was not 
there. When all were seated at the table, the grandmother, 
who had noticed his absence, asked St. Thomas, the tutor, what 
was the reason of it, and whether Leo had been punished. The 
tutor declared with some confusion that he did not know, but 
that he was certain that Leo would appear in a minute, that 
he was probably detained in his room getting ready for dinner. 
The grandmother was put at her ease, but, before long, the 
assistant tutor entered and whispered something to St. Thomas, 
who immediately jumped up and hurriedly left the room. 
This was so unusual, considering the strict etiquette observed 
at dinner, that everybody concluded that some great misfortune 
had taken place ; as Lyovochka was absent, every one was sure 
that he was the person who had met with a misfortune, and all 
anxiously awaited the return of St. Thomas. 

' Soon the matter was cleared up and we learned what had 
happened. 

' For some unknown reason, Lyovochka (as he now tells us 
himself, simply to do something extraordinary and surprise the 
others) had conceived the idea of jumping from a second-story 
window, a height of several yards. And in order not to have 
this achievement hindered, he remained in the room alone when 



EPISODES OF HIS BOYHOOD 75 

everybody else went to dinner. He climbed up to the open 
window in the attic and jumped into the yard. In the base- 
ment was the kitchen, and the cook was standing by the window, 
when, before she realised what was happening, Lyovochka 
struck the ground with a thud. She then informed the 
steward, and, stepping outside, they found Lyovochka lying in 
the yard in a state of unconsciousness. Luckily no bones 
were broken, and the injury was limited to a slight con- 
cussion of the brain ; unconsciousness changed into sleep ; he 
slept eighteen hours at a stretch and woke up quite sound. 
You may imagine what fear and anxiety were caused by the 
queer little fellow's unpremeditated act. 

' Once the idea struck him that he would clip his eye- 
brows; and he carried it out, thus disfiguring a face which 
was never strikingly beautiful and causing himself a great deal 
of grief. 

' Another time, 1 related Marie, ' we were driving in a troika 
from Pirogovo to Yasnaya. During a pause in our journey, 
Lyovochka got down and walked on on foot. When the carri- 
age was ready to set off again, he could not be found. Soon, 
however, the coachman beheld from his seat his disappearing 
figure on the road ahead of him, so the party started, believing 
he had gone on only with the intention of resuming his seat as 
soon as the troika caught him up ; but this was a mistake. 
As the carriage approached, he quickened his pace, and when 
the horse was made to trot he began to run, apparently not 
desiring to take his seat. The troika advanced at a rapid pace 
and he also ran as hard as he could, and kept on running 
for about three versts, till at last he was tired out and gave it 
up. They got him to take his seat ; but he was gasping for 
breath, perspiring and broken down with fatigue.' 

Sofya Andreyevna, Tolstoy's wife, has many a time busied 
herself with putting down particulars of his life, asking him 
questions about his childhood, and listening to stories told by 
his relations. Unfortunately these notes are incomplete, but 
nevertheless they are very valuable. We quote a few extracts 
from them, availing ourselves of the kind permission of their 
writer. 

' Judging by tales of old aunts who have told me a few 
things about my husband's childhood, and also by what my 
grandfather Islenef has said (he was very friendly with Nicolay 



Ilyich, Tolstoy's father), little Lyovochka was a peculiar child, 
in fact quite an odd little fellow. For instance, he once entered 
the saloon and made a bow to everybody backwards, bending 
his head and courtesying. 

' When I asked Tolstoy himself and also others if he studied 
well, I was answered that he " did not." ' 

S. A. Bers, Tolstoy's brother-in-law, relates the following in 
his reminiscences : 

'P. I. Yushkof, Tolstoy's late aunt, declared that in his 
boyhood he was very frolicsome, and as a boy he was marked 
for his oddity, sometimes also for his impulsive acts, as well as 
for a noble heart. 

' My mother related to me that in describing his first love 
in his work Childhood he omitted to say that, being jealous, he 
pushed the object of his love off the balcony. This was my 
mother, nine years old, who had to limp for a long time after- 
wards. He did this because she was not talking to him but to 
somebody else. Later on, she used to laugh and say to him : 
"Evidently you pushed me off the terrace in my childhood 
that you might marry my daughter afterwards." ' 1 

Tolstoy himself used to relate in the family circle, in my 
presence, that when he was a child of seven or eight years, he 
had an ardent desire to fly. He imagined that it was quite 
possible if you sat down on your heels and hugged your knees, 
and that the harder the knees were clasped the higher you 
could fly. 

Several stories by Tolstoy, published in his Books for Read- 
ing, are autobiographical. We reproduce some characteristic 
passages from them. 

In the tale, The Old Horse, Tolstoy relates how he and his 
three brothers got permission to have a ride. They were only 
allowed to ride on a quiet old horse called Voronok. The 
three elder brothers, after riding to their hearts 1 content and 
exhausting the horse, handed it over to him. 

* When my turn came, I wanted to surprise my brothers and 
to show them how well I could ride, so I began to drive Raven 
with all my might, but he did not want to get away from the 
stable. And no matter how much I beat him, he would not 
run, but only shied and turned back. I grew angry at the 
horse, and struck him as hard as I could with my feet and with 
1 S. A. Bers, Reminitcences of Count L. N. Tolstoy. 



EPISODES OF HIS BOYHOOD 77 

the whip. I tried to strike him in places where it would hurt 
most ; I broke the whip, and began to strike his head with what 
was left of the whip. But Raven would not run. Then I 
turned back, rode up to the valet, and asked him for a stout 
switch. But the valet said to me 

' " Don't ride any more, sir ! Get down ! What use is 
there in torturing the horse ? " 

' I felt offended, and said 

'"But I have not had a ride yet. Just watch me 
gallop ! Please, give me a good-sized switch ! I will heat 
him up." 

* Then the valet shook his head, and said 

* " Oh, sir, you have no pity ; why should you heat him up ? 
He is twenty years old. The horse is worn out ; he can barely 
breathe, and is old. He is so very old ! Just like Pimen 
Timofeyich. 1 You might just as well sit down on Timofeyi ell's 
back and urge him on with a switch. Now, would you not 
pity him ? " 

' I thought of Pimen, and listened to the valet's words. I 
climbed down from the horse and, when I saw how his sweaty 
sides hung down, how he breathed heavily through his nostrils, 
and how he switched his bald tail, I understood that it was 
hard for the horse. I felt so sorry for Raven that I began 
to kiss his sweaty neck and to beg his forgiveness for having 
beaten him.' 2 

In the tale, How I Learned to Ride, Tolstoy recalls how 
together with his brothers he went to a riding-school. 

' Then they brought a pony. It was a red horse, and his 
tail was cut off. He was called Ruddy. The master laughed, 
and said to me 

* " Well, young gentleman, get on your horse ! " 

' 1 was both happy and afraid, and tried to act in such a 
manner as not to be noticed by anybody. For a long time I 
tried to get my foot into the stirrup, but could not do it 
because I was too small. Then the master raised me up in his 
hands and put me on the saddle. He said 

' " The young master is not heavy ; about two pounds in 
weight, that is all. 11 

* At first he held me by my hand, but I saw that my 

1 A man ninety years old. 

2 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. xii. J. M. Dent & Co. 



78 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

brothers were not held, and so I begged him to let go of me. 
He said 

' " Are you not afraid ? " 

' I was very much afraid, but I said that I was not. I was 
so much afraid because Ruddy kept dropping his ears. I 
thought he was angry with me. The master said 

' " Look out, don't fall down ! " and let go of me. At first 
Ruddy went at a slow pace, and I sat up straight. But the 
saddle was smooth, and I was afraid I should slip off. The 
master asked me 

' " Well, are you fast in the saddle ? " 

' I said 

' u Yes, I am." 

* " If so, go at a slow trot ! " and the master clicked his 
tongue. 

' Ruddy started at a slow trot, and began to jog me. But 
I kept silent, and tried not to slip to one side. The master 
praised me 

' " Oh, a fine young gentleman, indeed ! " 

' I was very glad to hear it. 

4 Just then the master's friend went up to him and began to 
talk with him, and the master stopped looking at me. 

' Suddenly I felt that I had slipped a little to one side on my 
saddle. I wanted to straighten myself up, but was unable to 
do so. I wanted to call out to the master to stop the horse, 
but I thought it would be a disgrace if I did it, and so kept 
silence. The master was not looking at me, and Ruddy ran at 
a trot, and I slipped still more to one side. I looked at the 
master and thought that he would help me, but he was still 
talking with his friend, and, without looking at me, kept 
repeating 

* " Well done, young gentleman ! " 

* I was now altogether on one side, and was very much 
frightened. I thought I was lost, but I felt ashamed to cry. 
Ruddy shook me up once more, and I slipped off entirely and 
fell to the ground. Then Ruddy stopped, and the master 
looked at the horse and saw that I was not on him. He said 

'"I declare, my young gentleman has dropped of!" and 
walked over to me. 

' When I told him that I was not hurt, he laughed and 
said 



EPISODES OF HIS BOYHOOD 79 

* " A child's body is soft." 

' I felt like crying. I asked him to put me again on the 
horse, and I was lifted on. After that I did not fall down any 
more.' l 

Thus developed this remarkable child, thoughtful, impres- 
sionable, shy, affectionate, very lonely owing to the immense 
power of inner life in him which found no response in his 
surroundings. 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. xii. J. M. Dent & Co. 



CHAPTER VI 

YOUTH 

Kazan University : The Tolstoy brothers taking a course Tolstoy's entrance 
at the university Failure in his first examination A fresh examination 
Kazan society according to Zagoskin and Tolstoy The half-yearly 
examination during his first year of study His failure in examinations 
at the end of the year His change to the faculty of law Interest taken 
in the discourses of Vogel and the lectures of Meyer Entrance upon the 
second year of his studies in law His punishment and discussion with 
Nazaryef Kemoval to new lodgings The petition for leave to quit the 
university Testimonial given by the university Departure from Kazan 
Causes of leaving university. Reminiscences about his brother Dmitri : 
His appearance His peculiarities How he differed from his brothers 
Irritability His contempt for public opinion His piety The prison 
priest His friend Poluboyarinof Impulsiveness Lubov Sergeyevna 
Mitenka's immortality Sketch of inner development of Tolstoy during 
this period Critical age Indications of inner life and ideal aspirations 
in the tale Youth ' She' ' The love of love ' The hope of conceited happi- 
ness Repentance The guiding voice The poetical contemplation of 
nature Influence of literature Influence of environment University 
work The beginning of the diary Rules Visions of country life His 
attitude to women First philosophic experiments. Religious state of his 
soul : Falling away from faith The part of religion in the life of a society 
man Repentance. Beginning of the management of his country estate : A 
letter to his aunt Failure. Departure to St. Petersburg : A letter to his 
brother concerning his plans His loss at play, debts Letter to his 
brother His final examination Return to Yasnaya Polyana Period of 
carousals with intervals of asceticism Entries in his diary, rules His 
attitude to gambling. Life in Moscow : Letters to Tatiana Literary 
experiments. 

TOLSTOY and his brothers had spent five years at Kazan. In 
the summer the whole family, accompanied by Pelageya 
Ilyinishna, used to move to Yasnaya Polyana, every autumn 
they returned to Kazan. 

Tolstoy spent the greater part of his youth in Yushkofs 
home. 

The brothers Tolstoy moved there in 1841. The elder 
brother Nicolay, who left the Moscow University for that of 
Kazan, had in 1841-42 been already for the second year in 
the second division of the same faculty of philosophy in which 

80 



KAZAN UNIVERSITY 81 

he graduated in 1844. The two next brothers, Sergey and 
Dmitri, had chosen the same division of the faculty of philo- 
sophy which now is the same thing as the faculty of mathematics. 

Both matriculated in 1843, and graduated in the spring of 
1847. 

Tolstoy had chosen the faculty of Oriental languages, 
probably having the diplomatic service in view. To enter this 
faculty he worked very hard during the years 1842-44, for the 
entrance examinations were not easy, as one had to know the 
Arabic and Turco-Tartarian languages, which at that time 
were taught in Kazan gymnasium. The difficulties were suc- 
cessfully overcome by Tolstoy. 

In the archives of the Kazan University are kept all the 
documents relating to Tolstoy's entrance and stay in that 
univei-sity as well as his departure from it. 

All these papers are carefully collected and printed in the 
Reminiscences of Zagoskin. 1 We will present here only the 
more interesting. 

The petition of Tolstoy at entering the university. 

PETITION. 

' To his Excellency the Rector of the Imperial Kazan University, 
the Councillor of State, and Cavalier Nicolay Ivanovitch 
Lobachevsky . 

' Desiring to enter as a student of the Oriental Section 
(Turco-Arab category) of the Kazan University, I beg your 
Excellency to allow me to appear before the Board of Exami- 
nation. My papers: the certificate of birth from the Tula 
Theological Consistory under N 252, and the certificate of 
my noble origin from the Tula noblemen's board of deputies 
under N 267, I have the honour to present herewith. COUNT 
LYOF TOLSTOY.' 

The accompanying drawing presents the facsimile of the 
petition in Tolstoy's handwriting. 

In reply to this petition he was allowed to come up for the 
examinations, which, however, did not come off' quite satisfac- 
torily, as appears from the following statement of his marks. 

1 N. P. Zagoskin, 'Count L. N. Tolstoy and his University Life.' Historical 
Review, January 1894. 

VOL. I. F 



82 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Here are the marks l received by Tolstoy at his preliminary 
examinations for the university : 



Religion .... 
History, general and Russian 

Statistics and geography 
Mathematics .... 
Russian literature . 



4 

1 ' I knew nothing.' Remark by Tol- 

stoy, 

1 ' Still less.' Remark by Tolstoy. 

4 ' I remember I was questioned 

4 concerning France, Pushkin, the 



Logic 4 curator, who was present, examining 

Latin 2 me. He was a caller at our house, 

French 5 and evidently wanted to assist me. 

German 5 ' " Please name the sea-ports in 

Arabic 5 France." 

Turco- Tartar 5 'I could not name a single one.' 

English . . . ... .4 Tolstoy's note. 

In the minutes of the Board of Examination relating to 
Tolstoy's entrance at the university it is stated that Count 
Tolstoy ' has been examined upon the section of Oriental 
literature, but was not admitted into the university.' It was 
added : * His papers to be returned. 1 

This happened in the spring of 1844. Tolstoy resolved to 
appeal for another examination to take place in the autumn in 
those subjects for which he had received unsatisfactory marks. 

Accordingly, in the beginning of August, in the same year, 
1844, another petition reached the Rector of the university, 
written in Tolstoy's own hand. 

PETITION. 

' To His Excellency the Rector of the Imperial University of 
Kazan, Professor N. J. Lobachevslcy^ from Count L. N. 
Tolstoy. 

' In the month of May of the present year, together with 
the pupils of the first and second Kazan gymnasiums, I under- 
went an examination for the purpose of becoming a student 
of the Kazan University in the department of Arabo-Turkish 
languages. But at this examination I failed to show sufficient 
knowledge in history and statistics. I humbly beg your Ex- 
cellency to allow me to be now re-examined in these subjects. 
Herewith I have the honour to present the following docu- 
ments : (1) My birth certificate from the Consistory of Tula ; 

J In Russia 5 represents highest marks. 




O 

'r. 
J 
C 
H 

O 
tt 



H H 

C/) 

W 



KAZAN UNIVERSITY 83 

(2) A copy of the resolution of the Tula Board of Deputy 
Noblemen, Aug. 3rd, 1844. To this petition the above-named 
petitioner, L. N. Tolstoy, has put his hand.' 

On this petition the following remark was made : 

'Presented Aug. 4, 1844. To be allowed to come to the 
supplementary examinations. Aug. 4, 1844. 

* Rector LOBACHEVSKY.' 

Precisely when or how Tolstoy passed these additional 
examinations no one knows. But this time all ended well, 
for at the bottom of his petition was written the following 
memorandum : 

' Tolstoy to be admitted to the university as an extern 
student in the section of Turco- Arabic literature. 1 

Thus Tolstoy entered the university. But he spent there 
only the hours taken up with lectures. For the rest of his 
time he moved in the social circle of his aunt, Mme. Yushkof, 
in whose house he lived. What were these surroundings, and 
how were they likely to influence a youth ? 

In Zagoskin's reminiscences of Tolstoy's life as a student 
it is stated that the surroundings in which he moved in the 
Kazan society were demoralising, and that Tolstoy must have 
instinctively felt repelled, but he, having seen the manuscript, 
remarked that this was not the case. 

' I did not feel any repulsion,' he says, ' but very much liked 
to enjoy myself in the Kazan society, at that time very good.' 1 

Enumerating further on in his article the different unfavour- 
able circumstances in Tolstoy's life, Zagoskin is amazed at the 
moral power shown by him in overcoming all these temptations. 
On this Tolstoy himself made the following remark : 

'On the contrary, I am very thankful to fate for having 
passed my first youth in an environment wherein a young man 
could be young without touching upon problems beyond his 
grasp, and for living, although an idle and luxurious life, yet 
not an evil one.' 2 

The winter season of 1844-45, when Tolstoy began as a 
'young man' to appear in society, Mas still more gay than 

1 Notes made by Tolstoy when reading the MS. 

2 Ibid. 



84 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

previous seasons. Balls, now at the house of the governor of 
the province, now given by the chief of the nobility, now at 
the Rodionovsky Institute for the young ladies of nobility 
(balls which were particularly favoured by the matron of the 
Institution, Mme. E. D. Zagoskin), private dancing soirees, 
masquerades in the Hall of the Nobles, private theatricals, 
tableaux- vi van ts, concerts all these followed one another in 
an endless chain. As a titled young man of good birth, with 
good local connections, the grandson of the ex-governor of 
Kazan, and an eligible match, Tolstoy was welcome everywhere. 
The old inhabitants of Kazan remember him as being present 
at all the balls, soirees, and aristocratic parties, a welcome 
guest everywhere and always dancing, but, unlike his high-born 
fellow-students, far from being a ladies 1 man. He was always 
distinguished by a strange awkwardness and shyness ; he evi- 
dently was ill at ease in the part which he had to play and to 
which he was involuntarily bound by the detestable surround- 
ings of his life in Kazan. All this was sure to do harm to his 
studies, and the first half-yearly examination gave rather a 
poor result, as is seen by the examination sheet of the archive 
of the Kazan University, produced by Zagoskin : 

TOLSTOY, LYOF 

Progress. Application. 

The Church bibl. history . . 2 

The history of general literature . (did not appear) 
Arabic language .... 2 2 

French language '. 5 3 

This failure did not change his habits. He continued his 
gay worldly life, and at Shrovetide, together with his brother 
Sergey, took part in two private theatrical performances with 
a charitable aim. 

The end of all was that Tolstoy did not pass his examina- 
tions, and regularly this would have obliged him to follow 
the same course of study for another year. This is his own 
account of this unfortunate examination : 

'The first year Ivanof, Professor of Russian History, pre- 
vented me from being passed to the second course, notwith- 
standing the fact that I had not missed a single lecture and 
knew Russian history quite well, because he had a quarrel with 
my family. Besides, the same professor gave me the lowest 



KAZAN UNIVERSITY 85 

mark 1 for German, though I knew the language incom- 
parably better than any student in our division.'' 

But Tolstoy did not care to stay another year, and pre- 
sented a petition for leave to take another faculty, that of 
Jurisprudence, which was given him. 

After having entered the faculty of law, Tolstoy gave up 
studying altogether, and plunged with greater zest into the 
gaieties and distractions of fashionable Kazan society, which 
were at this time in full swing. The winter season of 1845-46 
opened with a fete on the occasion of a two days' visit of Duke 
Maximilian of Leichtenberg, and an enthusiastic reception was 
given in his honour. 

' Notwithstanding this, 1 Tolstoy remarks, ' at the end of this 
year I began for the first time to study seriously, and even 
found a certain pleasure in so doing. Among the university 
subjects the Encyclopaedia of Law and Criminal Law were of 
interest to me, moreover the German Professor Vogel arranged 
discussions at the lectures, and I remember that I was interested 
by one on capital punishment ; but besides the university or 
faculty subjects, Meyer, Professor of Civil Law, set me a task, 
viz. a comparison between Montesquieu's Esprit des Lois and 
Catherine's Code, and this work greatly absorbed me. 1 

The May examinations of 1846 went off well for Tolstoy. 
His marks were as follows : Logic and psychology, five each ; 
encyclopaedia of law, history of Roman law, and Latin, four 
each; universal and Russian history, theory of rhetoric and 
German, three each ; deportment in each of the three terms, 
five each. The average mark received was three, and thus 
Tolstoy passed on to his second year's course. 

The same year he was punisned by the university author- 
ities. He was put under lock and key. This episode has 
been described by a student, a fellow-sufferer with Tolstoy, 
Nazaryef, in his reminiscences. His version is far from true, 
though what he gives as their conversation corresponded to 
what really happened. With the help of Tolstoy's remarks 
we hope to reproduce the incident as it occurred. 

Tolstoy was locked up, not in a lecture hall, according to 
Nazaryef, but in a punishment cell (prison room), with its 
arches and iron gates ; he and his comrade were both there. 
Tolstoy carried with him a candle and candlestick secreted in 
his boot, and they spent a day or two very pleasantly. 



86 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

The coachman, trotter, man-servant, and so on existed in 
Nazaryefs imagination only. But their conversation as re- 
produced by him is plausible, and we therefore take it from 
Nazaryef s article as follows : 

' I remember, 1 says Nazaryef, ' noticing Lermontofs Demon. 
Tolstoy made an ironical remark about verses in general, and 
then turning to the History of Karamzin lying at my side, he 
attacked history as the dullest subject and an almost useless one. 

' " History," he declared curtly, " is nothing but a collec- 
tion of fables and useless details, sprinkled with a quantity 
of unnecessary dates and proper names. The death of Igor, 
the snake that stung Oleg, what are these but fairy tales ? 
and who wants to know that the second marriage of John 
with the daughter of Temryuk took place on August 21, 1562, 
and the fourth with Anna Alexeyevna Koltorsky, in 1572 ? yet 
they expect me to learn all this, and, if I don't know it, I get 
mark one ! And how is history written ? All is fitted in 
according to a certain plan invented by the historian. John 
the Terrible (about whom Professor Ivanof is at present 
lecturing), in 1560, from a virtuous and wise man, suddenly 
changes into a stupid, cruel tyrant. How and why, you need 
not ask. . . ." This was my companion's strain more or less 
throughout. I was greatly puzzled by such sharp criticism, 
the more so as history was my favourite subject. 

* This time the (to me) irresistible force of Tolstoy's doubts 
fell upon the university and the teaching of universities gener- 
ally. "The temple of science 11 was continually on his lips. 
Whilst himself remaining quite serious, he made such cari- 
catures of our professors, that in spite of my endeavour to 
appear uninterested I simply roared with laughter. 

1 "Yet," concluded Tolstoy, " we both have a right to expect 
that we shall leave this temple useful men, equipped with 
knowledge. But what shall we carry from the university ? 
Think a little and answer your conscience. What shall we 
take from this temple when we return home to the country, 
what shall we know how to do, to whom shall we be necessary ? " 
So he proceeded, addressing the question to me. 

'In conversation of this kind we spent the whole night. 
Morning had hardly dawned when the door opened, and the 
sergeant entered. He saluted us and explained that we were 
free and could retire to our respective homes. 



KAZAN UNIVERSITY 87 

'Tolstoy pulled his cap over his eyes, wrapped himself in 
his cloak with beaver collar, slightly nodded to me, once more 
abused "the temple," and then disappeared accompanied by 
his servant and the sergeant. I, too, was in a hurry to be 
gone. After leaving my companion, I gave a sigh of relief 
to be in the open frosty air in the midst of the silent street 
just beginning to stir. 

' My head was heavy and full of doubts and questions brought 
before me for the first time in my life by this strange and 
utterly incomprehensible companion in my captivity. 1 1 

The beginning of the academic year 1 846-47 brought 
certain changes in the life of the brothers Sergey, Dmitri, 
and Lyof Tolstoy. They left the house of their aunt, Pelageya 
Ilyinishna Yushkof, and settled in private rooms in the house 
belonging then to Petondi, and now occupied by Lozhkin's 
Public Charitable Home. There they had five rooms on 
the upper floor of the brick lodge, which still remains in 
the courtyard of this house and is used as one of the wards 
of the home. 

In January 1847, Tolstoy once more appeared on the day 
of the half-yearly examinations, but did not enter for all of 
them, and he evidently treated the whole affair as a hollow 
formality. Probably the plan of leaving the university was 
already forming in his mind. Indeed, soon after the Easter 
holidays, he presented a petition to be allowed to leave the 
university. It was as follows : 

PETITION. 

' To His Excellency the Rector of the Imperial Kazan Uni- 
versity, the State Counsellor, and Cavalier Ivan Mikailovitch 
Simonof, from an extern undergraduate in the second year 
of the faculty of law, Count Lyof Nicolayevich Tolstoy. 

'Prevented from continuing my studies in the university 
on account of ill-health and family affairs, I humbly beg 
your Excellency to issue an order authorising the omission 
of my name from the roll of university students and the return 
of all my documents. 1 

1 V. N. Nazaryef, ' Life and Men of the Past.' Historic Review, November 
1890. 



88 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

To this petition is added in his own handwriting the signa- 
ture of the student Count Lyof Tolstoy, April 12, 1847. 

After this comes the resolution of the administration of the 
university authorising 'Tolstoy's name to be struck oft* the 
roll of students, and a memorandum to be made of the time 
for which he remained in the university/ 

In the archives of the university there still exists the dupli- 
cate of the testimonial given to Count L. N. Tolstoy. This 
testimonial is very curious in its way, for it has been so edited 
as to smooth down Tolstoy's university failures, and to say 
nothing of the causes which hindered his moving up into his 
second year's course while he was a student in the division of 
Oriental languages. It runs as follows : 

' The bearer of this, Count Lyof, the son of Nicolay Tolstoy, 
having received a private education and passed an examination 
in all the subjects contained in the gymnasium curriculum, 
was admitted as a student at the Kazan University in the 
Division of Turco-Arab literature for the first year, but what 
progress he made during this year is not known, as he did not 
present himself for the examinations at the end of the year, 
and had therefore to remain in the same class. By the per- 
mission of the Director of the Educational Department of 
Kazan, dated September 13, 1845, he was transferred under 
N 3919 from the Division of Turco-Arab literature to the 
faculty of Law, where he made progress which, in logic and 
psychology, was excellent; in comparative jurisprudence, history 
of Roman law, and Latin good; in universal and Russian 
history, theory of rhetoric and German tolerably good ; he 
was then moved to the second year's course, but what progress 
he made while there is not known, as the yearly examinations 
have not yet taken place. Tolstoy's conduct while at the 
university was excellent. Now in compliance with his petition, 
presented on the 1 2th instant of April, he is on the ground of 
ill-health and family affairs discharged from the university. 
Not having taken a degree, he cannot enjoy the privileges 
reserved to graduates, but in virtue of paragraph 590, Volume 
III. of the Civil Code (edition 1842), on entering civil service, 
he will be entitled to the same privileges as to promotion as 
those who have passed through the gymnasium course of in- 
struction, and will have the same rank as the civil service 
officials of the second class. In witness hereof this testimonial 



LEAVES THE UNIVERSITY 89 

is given to Count Lyof Tolstoy by the administration of the 
University of Kazan, duly signed and sealed with the official 
seal, in accordance with the Imperial Charter granted to Kazan 
University, on ordinary paper. 1 

' Tolstoy, 1 writes Zagoskin in his reminiscences, ' was in a great 
hurry to leave Kazan, and did not even wait for the final 
university examinations which his brothers had to pass. The 
day came when he was to set out for Moscow, which lay on his 
way to Yasnaya Polyana. In the rooms of the Counts Tolstoy 
in the wing of Petondi's house, a small party of students 
gathered to celebrate his departure on a journey which was 
not free from difficulty in those days of imperfect communica- 
tions over great distances. One of those present who related 
to me the incident is still living in Kazan. In accordance with 
the custom, all drank the traveller's health, and wished him 
every good fortune. They accompanied him to the ferry across 
the river Kazanka, which had then overflowed its banks, and 
for the last time the friends exchanged the farewell kisses.' 

Few traces are now left of Tolstoy's stay at Kazan. 

Prince D. D. Obolensky, who recently paid a visit to the 
university, told me that in the lecture hall he saw the signature 
' Count L. N. Tolstoy,' undoubtedly cut by himself on the iron 
bar of his seat during his attendance at the lectures. This, it 
seems, is the only record of Tolstoy's presence in the Kazan 
University. 

Tolstoy's German biographer, Loewenfeld, while at Yasnaya 
Polyana, asked him why, considering his inherent thirst for 
knowledge, he left the university prematurely. 

The Count's answer was : ' This was perhaps the chief 
reason why I left it. I was little interested in what our Pro- 
fessors read at Kazan. I first worked a year at Oriental 
languages, but with little success, though I threw myself en- 
thusiastically into what I did. I read innumerable books, but 
all in one and the same direction. When any subject interested 
me, I did not deviate from it either to the right or the left, 
and I endeavoured to become acquainted with everything which 
might throw a light on this particular subject. So it was with 
me at Kazan.' l 

'There were two reasons for my leaving the university,' 
says Tolstoy ; ' first, that my brother had finished his course 

1 R. Loewenfeld, Gespraeche mit und ueber Tolstoy. Leipzig. 



90 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

and was leaving ; and secondly, however strange it may be to 
say so, that the work on the Nakaz and the Esprit des Lois (I 
have still got it) opened out to me a new sphere of independent 
mental work, whereas the university with its demands, far 
from aiding such work, only hindered it."* 1 

Calling to mind his brother Dmitri, Tolstoy gives interest- 
ing details of student life in Kazan, so we insert these reminis- 
cences here. 

' Mitenka was a year older than I. Big, black, grave eyes. 
I hardly remember him as a boy. I only know by hearsay that 
as a child he was very capricious ; it was said that such moods 
used to seize him that he was angry and cried at his nurse's not 
looking at him, and next got into a rage and screamed because 
she was looking at him. I know by what I have been told that 
my mother had much trouble with him. He was nearest to me 
by age, and I played with him oftenest, but I did not love him 
as much as I loved Seryozha, nor as I loved and respected 
Nicolenka. He and I lived together amicably. I do not re- 
collect that we quarrelled. Probably we did, and may even 
have fought ; but, as it happens with children, these fights did 
not leave the slightest trace, and I loved him with a simple 
instinctive love, and therefore did not remark it and do not 
remember it. I think, nay, I actually know, that according to 
my experience, especially in childhood, love for human beings 
is a natural state of the soul, or rather a natural attitude 
towards all men, and, as it is such, one does not remark it. 
This changes only when one dislikes, when one does not love 
but is afraid of something, as I was afraid of beggars, and was 
afraid of one of the Volkonskys who used to pinch me, and, I 
think, of no one else and when one loves some one exception- 
ally, as I loved my aunt Tatiana, my brother Seryozha, Nico- 
lenka, Vassili, my nurse, Issayevna, and Pashenka. As a child 
I remember nothing special about Mitenka, except his childish 
merriment. His peculiarities became manifest, and are memor- 
able to me from the time of our life at Kazan, whither we 
removed in the year '40 when he was thirteen. Till then, in 
Moscow, I remember that he did not fall in love as did Seryozha 
and I, did not particularly like dancing, nor military pageants, 
about which I will speak later, but studied well and strenuously. 
I remember that a student teacher named Poplonsky, who used 

1 Interpolation by Tolstoy upon reading the MS. 



STUDENT LIFE AT KAZAN 91 

to give us lessons, defined the attitude of us three brothers to 
our studies thus : Sergey both wishes and can, Dmitri wishes 
but cannot (this was not true), and Lyof neither wishes nor 
can. I think this was perfectly true. 

' So that my real memories concerning Mitenka begin with 
Kazan. At Kazan I, who had always imitated Seryozha, began 
to grow depraved (I will relate this later). Not only at Kazan, 
but even earlier, I used to take pains about my appearance. 
I tried to be elegant, comme ilfaut. There was no trace of any- 
thing of the kind in Mitenka. I think he never suffered from 
the usual vices of youth ; he was always serious, thoughtful, 
pure, resolute, though hot-tempered, and whatever he did he 
did to the best of his ability. It happened once that he swal- 
lowed a bit of chain ; but, as far as I can remember, he was not 
particularly troubled about the consequences. But as for 
myself, I remember what terrors I underwent when I swallowed 
the stone of a French plum which my aunt had given me, and 
how solemnly, as if in the face of death, I announced the mishap 
to her. I also remember how, as children, we used to toboggan 
down a steep hill by the farm-yard, and how some traveller, in 
order to drive his troyka J along the road, drove it up this hill. 
I think Seryozha, with a village boy, had launched down the 
hill, and, being unable to stop his sleigh, got under the horses. 
The boy climbed out without injury. The troyka ascended the 
hill. We were all absorbed in the event, thinking how they got 
out from under the horses, how the centre horse got frightened, 
&c., &c., whereas Mitenka (a boy of nine) went up to the 
traveller and began to upbraid him. I remember how it 
astonished and displeased me when he said that, in order to 
keep people from driving where there was no road, it would be 
necessary to send them to the stables, which, in the language 
of the time, implied a flogging. 

4 At Kazan his peculiarities began ; he studied well and re- 
gularly, and wrote verses with great facility. I remember how 
admirably he translated Schiller's Der Jiingling aus I^arche, but 
he did not devote himself to this occupation. I remember that 
once he merrily romped, and how the girls were delighted with 
it, and how I was envious, and reflected that this was because 
he was always so serious. And I desired to imitate him in this. 
Our aunt and godmother had the silly idea of making each of 

1 The Russian three-horse conveyance. Trans. 



92 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

us the gift of a boy, who was eventually to become our devoted 
servant. To Mitenka was given Vanyusha (he is still living). 
Mitenka often treated him badly, and I think even beat him. 
I say I think, because I do not remember it, but only remember 
his repentance for something done to Vanyusha, and his humble 
prayers for forgiveness. 

' Thus he grew up, associating little with others, always, 
except in moments of anger, quiet and serious, with thoughtful, 
grave, large hazel eyes. He was tall, rather thin, and not very 
strong, with long big hands and round shoulders. His pecu- 
liarities began at the time of entering the university. He was 
a year younger than Sergey, but they entered the university 
together, in the mathematical faculty, solely because the elder 
brother was a mathematician. I do not know how or by what 
he was so early attracted towards a religious life, but it began 
with the very first year of his university life. His religious 
aspirations naturally directed him to Church life, and he de- 
voted himself to it as thoroughly as he did to everything. He 
began to fast, he attended all the Church services, and became 
especially strict in his conduct. 

' In Mitenka there must have existed that valuable charac- 
teristic which I believe my mother to have had, and which I 
knew in Nicolenka, and of which I was altogether devoid 
the characteristic of complete indifference to other people's 
opinion about oneself. Until quite lately I have always been 
unable to divest myself of concern about people's opinion, but 
Mitenka was quite free from this. I never remember on his face 
that restrained smile which involuntarily appears when one is 
praised. I always remember his serious, quiet, sad, sometimes 
severe, large, almond-shaped hazel eyes. Only from the Kazan 
days did we begin to pay particular attention to him, and that 
merely because, whilst Seryozha and I attached great importance 
to what was comme iljaut to the external he was careless 
and untidy, and for this we condemned him. He did not dance, 
and did not wish to learn dancing. As a student he did not go 
into Society ; he wore a student's suit with a tight tie, and from 
his very youth he had the habit of jerking his head as if freeing 
himself from this tie. His peculiarity first revealed itself in our 
first preparation for communion. He made his devotions, not 
in the fashionable university church, but in the church of the 
prison. We lived in a house belonging to a Mr. Gortalof, oppo- 



HIS BROTHER, MITENKA 93 

site the jail. The prison chaplain of that time was a specially 
pious and devout man, who, contrary to the ordinary usage of 
priests, went through the whole of the appointed readings in 
the Gospels for Passion Week, as was officially required, which 
made the services last a very long time. Mitenka used to stand 
them out, and made the priest's acquaintance. The jail church 
was so arranged that the public was separated from the place 
where the convicts stood only by a glass partition with a door. 
Once one of the convicts wished to pass something to one of the 
vergers either a candle, or money to buy one ; no one in the 
church cared to undertake the commission, but Mitenka, with 
a serious expression on his face, immediately took it and passed 
it on. It turned out that it was forbidden, and he was repri- 
manded, but, as he thought it was right, he did it again. 

* We others, especially Seryozha, kept up acquaintance with 
our aristocratic comrades and other young men. Mitenka, 
on the contrary, out of all our comrades, selected a piteous- 
looking, poor, shabbily dressed student, Poluboyarinof (whom 
a humorous comrade of ours used to call Polubezobedof, 1 and 
we contemptible lads thought this amusing, and laughed at 
Mitenka). He consorted only with Poluboyarinof, and with 
him prepared for his examinations. 

' We were living in the upper floor, which was divided 
in two by an inner balcony over the ball-room. In the 
nearest half on this side of the balcony lived Mitenka, in 
the room on the other Seryozha and myself. We two were 
fond of small knicknacks, we decorated our rooms as grown- 
up people do, and trifling articles used to be given us for 
this purpose. Mitenka kept no ornaments at all. The only 
thing he had taken from our father's things was a collection 
of minerals : he classified them, ticketed them, and placed 
them in a case under glass. As we brothers, and even 
aunt, looked down upon Mitenka with a certain contempt 
for his low tastes and associations, the same attitude was 
assumed by our light-minded comrades. One of the latter, 
a very unintelligent man, an engineer, one E., a friend of 
ours not so much by our choice as because he stuck to us 
once, on passing through Mitenka's room, took notice of 
these minerals, and questioned Mitenka about them. E. 

1 An untranslatable play of words, the first name literally meaning " half 
a noble," and the second " half hungry." Trant. 



94 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

was not sympathetic, not natural, and Mitenka answered 
unwillingly. E. moved the box and jerked the minerals. 
Mitenka said, " Leave them alone/ 1 E. paid no attention, 
but made some joke and called him Noah. Mitenka flew 
in a rage, and with his big hands hit E. in the face. E. ran 
away and Mitenka after him. As they rushed into our 
quarters we locked the doors, but Mitenka declared that he 
would thrash him when he went back. Seryozha and, I 
think, Schuvalof, went to persuade Mitenka to let E. pass, 
but he took a broom and declared that he would certainly 
beat him. I don't know what might have happened had E. 
passed through his room, but E. himself requested us to 
get him out some other way, and we led him out almost 
crawling by some way through the dusty garret. 

' Such was Mitenka in his moments of anger. But this is 
what he was when nothing put him out. To our family 
had attached herself (she was taken in from pity) a most 
strange and piteous being, Lyubof Sergey evna, a girl ; I 
don't know what surname was given her. She was the fruit 
of an incestuous connection. How she came into our house 
I do not know. I have been told that she was pitied and 
caressed, and that they wished to find her a situation, or 
even to have her married to Feodor Ivanovich, but nothing 
of this succeeded. Then she was taken by my aunt to Kazan, 
and lived with her, so that I came to know her at Kazan. 
She was a pitiful, meek, oppressed being. She had a little 
room of her own, and a girl attended her. When I made 
her acquaintance she was not only pitiful but repulsive to 
look at. I don't know what her disease was, but her face 
was all swollen, as faces are when they have been stung by 
bees. Her eyes appeared in two narrow slits, between 
swollen shining cushions without brows : similarly swollen 
and gleaming were her cheeks, nose, lips, and mouth, and 
she spoke with difficulty, probably having the same swelling 
within her mouth. In summer, flies settled on her face 
without her feeling it, and it was especially unpleasant to 
see this. Her hair was still black but scanty, barely con- 
cealing the scalp. Vassili Yushkof, my aunt's husband, a 
sarcastic man, did not conceal his repugnance for her. She 
always had a bad smell about her, and in her room, where 
neither window nor ventilator were ever open, the atmos- 




LEO TOLSTOY AT THE TIME OF HIS LEAVING 
THE UNIVERSITY, 1848 



LYUBOF SERGEYEVNA 95 

phere was oppressive. Well, it was this Lyubof Sergeyevna 
who became Mitenka's friend. He used to go to her room, 
listen to her, talk to her, read to her. And strange to say 
we were morally so dense that we only laughed at this, 
whereas Mitenka was morally so high, so independent of 
concern about people's opinion, that he never either by word 
or by hint showed that he regarded what he was doing as 
something good. He simply did it. 

' This was not a passing impulse, but continued the whole 
time we lived at Kazan. 

' How clear it is to me that Mitenka's death did not 
destroy him, that he existed before I came to know him, 
before he was born, and that, having died, he still is ! ' 

Let us take a glance at Tolstoy's inner life at this period, so 
far as we have the materials. 

The critical age of man youth leads him into the abyss 
of passion. To an ordinary man it is a period in life when 
he is carried away by various sensations and passions, when 
he searches for an ideal ; a period of dreams, expectations, 
and, generally, of unfulfilled hopes. One can imagine the 
mental excitement through which such a many-sided and 
powerful nature had to pass, as Tolstoy's was and remains. 
His soul was tossed to and fro on divers blasts. The wings 
of vision lifted him to unattainable heights, from which he 
plunged downwards, carried away by the lower impulses of 
a powerful animal nature. 

References are to be found to the tumultuous inner life 
of this youthful period in two works of Tolstoy's Youth 
and My Confession. In the first we meet with autobio- 
graphical traits in Nicolenka Irtenef's reflections. The 
thoughts taken from Youth are chiefly of an ideal character, 
and expressed in a beautiful poetic form. Here we bring 
forward only the more important of them. 

1 1 have said that my friendship with Dmitri had opened 
up to me a new view of life, its aims and relations. The 
essence of this view consisted in the conviction that it was 
man's destiny to strive after moral perfection, and that this 
perfection was easy, possible, and eternal. . . . 

' But a time came when these ideas burst upon my reason 
with such a fresh power of moral discovery that I became 
frightened at the thought of how much time I had spent in 



96 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

vain, and I wished immediately, that very second, to apply 
all those ideas to life, with the firm intention of never being 
false to them. 

* This time I regard as the beginning of my youth. 

' I was then finishing my sixteenth year. Teachers still 
came to the house, St. Jerome looked after my studies, and 
I was preparing myself with an effort, and against my will, 
for the university. 

' At that date, which I regard as the extreme limit of 
boyhood and beginning of youth, the basis of my dreams 
consisted of four sentiments. The first was the love for her, 
an imaginary woman, of whom I dreamt ever in the same way, 
and whom I expected to meet somewhere at any minute. . . . 
My second sentiment was the love of love. I wanted every- 
body to know and love me. I wanted to tell my name, and 
have every one struck by the information, and surround me 
and thank me for something. The third sentiment was a 
hope for some unusual vain happiness such a strong and 
firm hope that it passed into insanity. . . . My fourth and 
chief sentiment was my self-disgust and repentance, but a 
repentance which was so closely welded with the hope of 
happiness, that there was nothing sad in it. ... I even found 
pleasure in my disgust with the past, and tried to see it 
blacker than it was. The blacker the circle of my memories 
of the past, the brighter and clearer stood out from it the 
bright and clear point of the present, and streamed the 
rainbow colours of the future. This voice of repentance and 
passionate desire for perfection was the main new sensation 
of my soul at that epoch of my development, and it was 
this which laid a new foundation for my views of myself, 
of people, and of the whole world. 

' Beneficent, consoling voice, which since then has so often 
been heard suddenly and boldly against all lies, in those sad 
moments when the soul in silence submitted to the power 
of deceit and debauchery in life, which has angrily accused 
the past, has indicated the bright point of the present, causing 
one to love it, and has promised happiness and well-being in 
the future beneficent, consoling voice ! will you ever cease 
to be heard ? ' l 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. i. J. M. Dent & Co. 



INFLUENCE OF BOOKS 97 

Fortunately for Tolstoy himself and for all of us, we know 
that that voice was never for a moment silent, and that this 
beneficent voice still calls to him and to us, guiding us towards 
a bright and infinite ideal. 

Sometimes these dreams vividly expressed the principles 
of that idealistic naturalism which became the base of the 
greater part of Tolstoy's works. 

' And the moon rose higher and higher, and stood brighter 
and brighter in the heavens, the rich sheen of the pond, 
evenly growing, like sound, became more and more distinct, 
the shadows became blacker and blacker, and the light ever 
more transparent ; and as I looked at it all and listened, 
something told me that she, with her bared arms and passionate 
embraces, was very far from bearing all the happiness in the 
world, that the love for her was very far from being all its 
bliss; and the more I looked at the full moon up on high, 
the higher did true beauty and goodness appear to me, 
and the purer and nearer to Him, the source of all that is 
beautiful and good, and tears of an unsatisfied but stirring 
joy stood in my eyes. 

' And I was all alone, and it seemed to me that mysterious, 
majestic Nature, the attractive bright disk of the moon, which 
had for some reason stopped in one high undefined spot in 
the pale blue sky, and yet stood everywhere and, as it were, 
filled all the immeasurable space and myself, insignificant 
worm, defiled already by all petty, wretched human passions, 
but with all the immeasurable mighty power of love it 
seemed to me in those minutes that Nature and the moon 
and I were one and the same.' l 

It is interesting to note the literary works which influenced 
Tolstoy and helped the development of his views during his 
youth, that is to say, from about fourteen to twenty-one years. 

TITLES OF THE BOOKS. THE DEGREE OF 

THEIR INFLUENCE. 
The New Testament (Gospel of St. Matthew) ; The Sermon 



Sterne's Sentimental Journey 
Rousseau, Confession . 
timile . 
NouveUe Helolse . 
Pushkin, Eugene Onegin . 












Very great. 
Powerful. 
Powerful. 
Very great. 
Very great. 



1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. i. p. 398. 
VOL. I. 



98 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

TITLES OF THE BOOKS. THE DEGREE OF 

THEIR INFLUENCE. 

Schiller, Die Rduber . . Very great. 

Gogol, The Overcoat ; Iv. Iv. and Iv. Nik; Nevsky Prospect 



Vy ; Dead Souls 

Turgenef , The Memoirs of a Sportsman 
Druzhinin, Polinka Sax 
Grigorovitch, Anton Goremika 
Dickens, David Copperfield . 
Lermontof, The Hero of our Times; Taman 
Prescott, The Conquest of Mexico . 



Great. 
Very great. 
Very great. 
Very great. 
Powerful. 
Very great. 
Great. 



At the same time Tolstoy had to put up with the worry 
of the conventionalities to which his life, as one of the gentry, 
was subjected; to one of which, the so-called comme il faut, 
he dedicates a whole chapter in Youth. We will quote from 
it only the more essential passages. 

' I feel myself constrained to devote a whole chapter to a 
conception that was one of the most disastrous and false ideas 
with which I was inoculated by education and society. 

' My chief and favourite classification at the time of which 
I am writing was into people comme il faut and comme U ne 
faut pas. The second division was subdivided into people more 
particularly not comme ilfaut, and into the common people. I 
respected people comme ilfaut, and considered them worthy of 
being on an equality with me ; I pretended a contempt for the 
second, but in reality hated them, cherishing against them a 
feeling of being personally offended ; the third for me did not 
exist, I disregarded them entirely. My comme il faut con- 
sisted, first and foremost, in the use of excellent French, more 
especially in pronunciation. A man who pronounced French 
badly immediately provoked a feeling of hatred in me. " Why 
do you attempt to speak as we do, if you do not know how ? " 
I asked him mentally, with a venomous smile. The second 
condition for comme il faut consisted in long, manicured, and 
clean nails. The third was the ability to curtsey, dance, and 
converse. The fourth, and this was very important, was an 
indifference to everything, and a constant expression of a 
certain elegant, supercilious ennui. . . . 

* It is terrible to think how much invaluable time of my 
seventeenth year I wasted on the acquisition of this temper 
of mind. . . . 

' But it was not the loss of the golden time, which was 
employed on the assiduous task of preserving all the difficult 



'COMME IL FAUT' 99 

conditions of the comme Ufaut, to the exclusion of every serious 
application, nor the hatred and contempt for nine-tenths of 
the human race, nor the absence of any interest in all the 
beauty that existed outside that circle of comme ilfaut, that 
was the greatest evil which this conception caused me. The 
greatest evil consisted in the conviction that comme ilfaut was 
an independent position in society, that a man need not have 
to try to be an official, or a carriage-maker, or a soldier, or 
a learned man, if he was comme ilfaut ; that, having reached 
that position, he had already fulfilled his purpose, and even 
stood higher than most people. 

' At a certain period of his youth, every man, after many 
blunders and transports, generally faces the necessity of taking 
an active part in social life, chooses some department of labour, 
and devotes himself to it ; but this seldom happens with the 
man who is comme il faut. I know many, very many old, 
proud, self-confident people, sharp in their judgments, who to 
the question which may be asked them in the next world, 
" Who are you ? And what have you been doing there ? " 
would not be able to answer otherwise than " Jefus un homme 
tres comme ilfaut" 

' This fate awaited me.' l 

As we know from the conversation of Tolstoy with his 
German biographer Loewenfeld, along with his university 
studies (on the whole uninteresting to him) he showed capacity 
for independent intellectual research. This was called forth 
by the university inviting an essay comparing the Esprit des 
Lois of Montesquieu and the Instruction of the Empress 
Catherine II. 

The diaries of Tolstoy relating to this period are full of 
thoughts, notes, and commentaries concerning this essay. A 
swarm of ideas crowded his brain, as if the hitherto sleeping 
intellect suddenly awoke and began to work actively in all 
directions. 

In March 1847 Tolstoy was laid up in the Kazan hospital. 
During his illness, being alone in the hospital, he found time 
to think of the significance of Reason. Society is but part 
of the world. Reason must be in harmony with the world, 
with the whole, so by studying its laws one may become inde- 
pendent of the past, of the world. We see from this remark 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. i. pp. 388-391. 



100 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

that this youth of eighteen years had already in him the germ 
of the future idea of anarchy. 

Having observed in himself signs of a passion for know- 
ledge, Tolstoy checks himself at once, and fearing to go too 
far in theory, he tries to solve the questions of science applied 
to practice, but chiefly those of the moral ideal and moral 
conduct. 

Among others, he made the following entry in his diary 
(March 1847): 

* I have greatly changed, but still have not attained that 
degree of perfection (in my occupations) which I would like to 
attain. I do not fulfil that which I set myself to do, and 
what I do fulfil I do not fulfil well, I do not exercise my 
memory. For this purpose I here put down some rules, which, 
as it seems to me, would greatly help, if I followed them. 

*(1) To fulfil despite everything that which I set myself. 

(2) To fulfil well what I do fulfil. 

' (3) Never to refer to a book for what I have forgotten, but 
to endeavour to recall it to mind myself. 

'(4) Continually to compel my mind to work with the 
utmost power it is capable of. 

' (5) To read and think always aloud. 

* (6) Not to be ashamed of telling those who interrupt me 
that they hinder me ; at first let them only feel it, but if they 
do not understand (that they are hindering me), then apologise 
and tell them so. 1 

His university essay leads him to the conclusion that there 
are two principles in Catherine's Instruction: that of the 
revolutionary ideas of modern Europe and that of Catherine^ 
despotism and vanity, the latter principle being predominant. 
The republican ideas are borrowed by her from Montesquieu. 
In the end Tolstoy comes to the conclusion that the Instruc- 
tion brought with it more glory to Catherine than advantage 
to Russia. 

Having resolved to leave the university and settle in the 
country, Tolstoy determined that he would study Latin, the 
English language, and Roman law, the subjects which, in his 
own opinion, he knew least about. 

But as the time of departure drew nearer, the plans and 
dreams of his new life widened, and finally he wrote this in his 
diary of April 17, 1847: 



101 

'A change must take place in my way of life, but it is 
necessary that this change should be the result of the soul, 
and not of external circumstances. 11 

Further : 

'The object of life is the conscious aspiration towards the 
many-sided development of all that exists. 

' The object of life in the country during two years : 

'(1) To study the whole course of law necessary for the final 
university examination. (2) To study practical medicine and 
a part of the theory. (3) To study these languages : French, 
Russian, German, English, Italian and Latin. (4) To study 
agriculture both theoretically and practically. (5) To study 
history, geography, and statistics. (6) To study mathematics, 
gymnasium course. (7) To write my university essay. (8) To 
attain the highest possible perfection in music and painting. 
(9) To write down the rules of conduct. (10) To acquire 
some knowledge of the natural sciences. And (11) to compose 
essays on all the subjects I shall study. 1 

All the subsequent life of Tolstoy in the country is full of 
such dreams, good beginnings, and serious and sincere struggles 
with himself after perfection. 

With incomparable sincerity he notes down any digression, 
every lapse from the rule he intended to follow, and again 
gathers strength for a new battle. 

His relation with women began to disturb him even then, 
and this is the interesting advice he gave himself. 

' Look upon the society of women as upon a necessary un- 
pleasantness of social life, and as much as possible keep away 
from them. 

' Indeed from whom do we get sensuality, effeminacy, frivolity 
in everything, and many other vices, if not from women ? Who 
is to blame that we lose our innate qualities of boldness, resolu- 
tion, reasonableness, justice, and others, if not women ? Women 
are more receptive than men, therefore in virtuous ages women 
were better than we, but in the present depraved and vicious 
age they are worse than we. 1 

In all this we already see hints of his later views of life. 

His first philosophical essays also belong to this period, and 
it was at this time, while reading Rousseau, that he wrote 
commentaries to his Discourses. We also meet his original 
philosophic article written in 1846-47 when he was eighteen 



102 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

years old. The title of the article is, * On the Aim of Philo- 
sophy. 1 Philosophy is thus defined : 

' Man aspires i.e. man is active. To what is his activity 
directed, how is his activity to be set free? In this consists 
philosophy in its true sense. In other words, philosophy is the 
science oflife." 1 

Besides these, he wrote essays on various subjects, such as : 
' On Reasoning concerning Future Life,' ' Definition of Time, 
Space, and Number,' ' Methods,' ' Division of Philosophy,' &c. 

The following incident, noted down by the Countess Tolstoy, 
occurred about this time : 

' During his student days Tolstoy was struck by the idea of 
symmetry, and wrote a philosophical article on the subject in 
an argumentative form. The article was lying on the table in 
his room when Shuvalof, a friend of the brothers Tolstoy, 
came in with bottles in all his pockets, and was going to drink, 
when he caught sight of the article and read it. He was 
interested in it, and asked Tolstoy what he had copied it from. 
Tolstoy replied, with some hesitation, that he had written it 
himself. Shuvalof laughed, and said that was not true, it 
could not be, the article was too deep and clever for such a 
youth. Nothing would convince him of it, and he went away 
with his conviction unchanged.' l 

This little incident shows how much Tolstoy's intellectual 
standard already differed from that of those about him, and 
how superior to them he was. 

His Confession reveals to us his inner world of that period 
from another point of view the religious one. 

'I remember, also, that when my elder brother, Dmitri, 
then at the university, gave himself up to a passionate faith, 
with the impulsiveness natural to his character, began to 
attend the Church services regularly, to fast, and to lead a 
pure and moral life, we all of us, as well as some older than 
ourselves, never ceased to hold him up to ridicule, and for 
some incomprehensible reason gave him the nickname of Noah. 
I remember that Mussin-Pushkin, then curator of the Uni- 
versity of Kazan, having invited us to a ball, tried to persuade 
my brother, who had refused the invitation, by the jeering 
argument that even David danced before the ark. 

' I sympathised then with these jokes of my elders, and drew 

1 The Memoirs of Countess S. A. Tolstoy. 



REFLECTIONS ON LIFE 103 

from them this conclusion that I was bound to learn my 
catechism, and go to church, but that it was not necessary to 
think of my religious duties more seriously. I also remember 
that I read Voltaire when I was very young, and that his tone 
of mockery amused without disgusting me. The gradual 
estrangement from all belief went on in me, as it does, and 
always has done, in those of the same social position and 
culture as myself. This falling off, as it seems to me, for the 
most part ta'kes place as follows: People live as others do, 
and their lives are guided, not by the principles of the faith 
which is taught them, but by their very opposite; belief has 
no influence on life, nor on the relations between men it is 
relegated to some other sphere where life is not; if the two 
ever come into contact at all, belief is only one of the outward 
phenomena, and not one of the constituent parts of life. 

' By a man's life, by his acts, it was then, as it is now, im- 
possible to know whether he was a believer or not. If there be 
a difference between one who openly professes the doctrines of 
the Orthodox Church and one who denies them, the difference 
is not to the advantage of the former. An open profession of 
the orthodox doctrines is mostly found among persons of dull 
intellects, of stern character, who are much impressed with 
their own importance. Intelligence, honesty, frankness, a good 
heart and moral conduct are oftener met with among those 
who are disbelievers. A schoolboy of the people is taught his 
catechism and sent to church ; from the grown man is required 
a certificate of his having taken the Holy Communion. But 
a man belonging to our class neither goes to school nor is 
bound by the regulations affecting those in the public service, 
and may now live through long years still more was this the 
case formerly without being once reminded of the fact that 
he lives among Christians, and calls himself a member of the 
Orthodox Church. 

1 Thus it happens that now, as formerly, the influence of early 
religious teaching, accepted merely on trust and upheld by 
authority, gradually fades away under the knowledge and 
practical experience of later life, which is opposed to all its 
principles, and a man often believes for years that his early 
faith is still intact, while all the time not a particle of it 
remains in him. 

' The belief instilled in childhood gradually disappeared in 



104 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

me, as in so many others, but with this difference, that I was 
conscious of my own disbelief. At fifteen years of age I had 
begun to read philosophical works. From the age of sixteen I 
ceased to pray, and ceased also to attend the services of the 
Church with conviction, or to fast. I no longer accepted the 
faith of my childhood, but I had a vague belief in something, 
though I did not think I could exactly explain what. I be- 
lieved in a God, or rather I did not deny the existence of God, 
but anything relating to the nature of the Deity I could not 
have described ; I denied neither Christ nor His teaching, but 
wherein that teaching consisted I could not have said. 

' Now, when I think over that time, I see clearly that all the 
faith I had, the only belief which, apart from mere animal 
instinct, swayed my life, was a belief in a possibility of per- 
fection, though what it was in itself, or what would be its 
results, I was unable to say. I endeavoured to reach perfection 
in intellectual attainments ; my studies were extended in every 
direction of which my life afforded me a chance ; I strove to 
strengthen my will, forming for myself rules which I forced 
myself to follow ; I did my best to develop my physical powers 
by every exercise calculated to give strength and agility, and, 
by way of accustoming myself to patient endurance, subjected 
myself to many voluntary hardships and trials of privations. 
All this I looked upon as necessary to obtain the perfection at 
which I aimed. At first, of course, moral perfection seemed to 
me the main end, but I soon found myself contemplating instead 
of it an ideal of conventional perfectibility ; in other words, I 
wished to be better, not in my own eyes, nor in those of God, 
but in the sight of other men. This feeling again soon led to 
another the desire to have more power than others, to secure 
for myself a greater share of fame, of social distinction, and of 
wealth.' l 

Further on begins the terrible confession by which Tolstoy, 
in denouncing his own sins, denounces ours also at the same 
time, for most of us have been through the same depths of 
vice, though we may not have plunged into so gigantic an 
abyss, or the consciousness of our evil lives may not have been 
so real. 

' At some future time I may relate the story of my life, and 
dwell in detail on the pathetic and instructive incidents of my 

1 How I Came to Bdieve, pp. 5-8. 



MEMORIES OF YOUTH 105 

youth. Many others must have passed through the same 
experiences. I honestly desired to make myself a good and 
virtuous man ; but I was young, I had passions, and I stood 
alone, altogether alone, in my search after virtue. Every time 
I tried to express the longings of my heart for a truly virtuous 
life, I was met with contempt and derisive laughter, but directly 
I gave way to the lowest of my passions, I was praised and 
encouraged. I found ambition, love of power, love of gain, 
lechery, pride, anger, vengeance, held in high esteem. I gave 
way to these passions, and becoming like my elders, felt that 
the place which I filled in the world satisfied those around 
me. My kind-hearted aunt, a really good woman, used to say 
to me, that there was one thing above all others which she 
wished for me an intrigue with a married woman : " Rien ne 
forme un jeune homme, comme une liaison avec une femme comme 
iHfant? Another of her wishes for my happiness was, that I 
should become an adjutant, and, if possible, to the Emperor. 
The greatest happiness of all for me she thought would be 
that I should find a wealthy bride who would bring me as her 
dowry an enormous number of serfs. 

* I cannot now recall those years without a painful feeling of 
horror and loathing. 

4 1 put men to death in war, I fought duels to slay others. 
I lost at cards, wasted the substance wrung from the sweat of 
peasants, punished the latter cruelly, rioted with loose women, 
and deceived men. Lying, robbery, adultery of all kinds, 
drunkenness, violence, and murder, all were committed by me, 
not one crime omitted, and yet I was none the less considered 
by my equals to be a comparatively moral man. Such was my 
life for ten years. 

* During that time I began to write, out of vanity, love of 
gain, and pride. I followed as a writer the same path which I 
had chosen as a man. In order to obtain the fame and the 
money for which I wrote, I was obliged to hide what was good 
and bow down before what was evil. How often while writing 
have I cudgelled my brains to conceal under the mask of in- 
difference or pleasantry those yearnings for something better 
which formed the real problem of my life ! I succeeded in my 
object, and was praised. At twenty-six years of age, on the 
close of the war, I came to St. Petersburg and made the 
acquaintance of the authors of the day. 



106 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

' I met with a hearty reception and much flattery.' l 

This tumultuous period of ten years' duration began in the 
country. 

To this time belong more or less Tolstoy's attempts to arrange 
the affairs of his estates on new principles, and especially his 
endeavours to establish reasonable and friendly relations with 
the peasants. These attempts fell flat, and their failure is 
vividly pictured in his tale, The Russian Proprietor. This 
tale gives us so much autobiographical material, in the psycho- 
logical sense, that we consider it as a chapter of his biography, 
though the incidents related do not agree with the facts of his 
life. 

From it we quote the letter of 'Prince NekhludoP to his 
aunt. 

' DEAE AUNTY, I have made a resolution on which the fate 
of my whole life must depend. I will leave the university in 
order to devote myself to country life, because I feel that I was 
born for it. For God's sake, dear aunty, do not laugh at me ! 
You will say that I am young ; and, indeed, I may still be a 
child, but this does not prevent me from feeling what my calling 
is, and from wishing to do good, and loving it. 

' As I have written you before, I found affairs in indescrib- 
able disorder. In trying to straighten them out, and to under- 
stand them, I discovered that the main evil lay in the truly 
pitiable, poverty-stricken condition of the peasants, and that the 
evil was such that it could be mended by labour and patience 
alone. If you could only see two of my peasants, Davyd and 
Ivan, and the lives which they lead with their families, I am 
sure that the mere sight of these unfortunates would convince 
you more than all I might say to explain my intention to you. 

' Is it not my sacred and direct duty to care for the welfare 
of these seven hundred men, for whom I shall be held respon- 
sible before God ? Is it not a sin to abandon them to the 
caprice of rude elders and managers for their plans of enjoy- 
ment and ambition ? And why should I look in another sphere 
for opportunities of being useful and doing good when such a 
noble, brilliant, and immediate duty is open to me ? 

* I feel myself capable of being a good landed proprietor ; 
and in order to be one, as I understand this word, one needs 

1 How I Came to Bdieve, pp. 8-9. 



ST. PETERSBURG UNIVERSITY 107 

neither a university diploma nor rank, which you are so 
anxious I should obtain. Dear aunty, make no ambitious 
plans for me ! Accustom yourself to the thought that I have 
chosen an entirely different path, which is nevertheless good, 
and which, I feel, will bring me happiness. I have thought 
much, very much, about my future duty, have written out rules 
for my actions, and, if God will grant me life and strength, shall 
succeed in my undertaking. 1 1 

If Tolstoy did not really write this letter in his own person, 
such thoughts and desires agitated his young soul, and gave 
direction to his life. 

Tolstoy's attempts as we know them from the tale ended 
in failure. It could not be otherwise. Tolstoy's sincerity of 
character could not bear a position in which he posed as bene- 
factor to his serfs, i.e. to men wounded in the most precious 
thing they possessed, their moral dignity. 

Tolstoy revolted against this contradiction : to become a 
* cool and stern man,' as his aunt advised him in her answer to 
his letter, he could not, and at the first possible opportunity he 
changed his way of life. 

In the autumn of the year 1847, after having spent the 
summer in Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy removed to St. Peters- 
burg, and at the beginning of 1848 he entered upon his 
examinations for a university degree. 

' In 1848 I went to pass my examination as a candidate at 
the St. Petersburg University, knowing literally nothing, and 
having prepared myself for one week only. I did not sleep for 
nights, and received candidates' marks in civil and criminal 
law.' 

To Loewenfeld, Tolstoy thus speaks about this time : 

' It was very pleasant to live in the country with my aunt 
Yergolsky, but a vain thirst for knowledge again called me 
away. It was in 1848, and still I did not know what to under- 
take. In St. Petersburg two roads were open to me. I might 
enter the army, and take part in the Hungarian campaign, or 
I might finish my university studies in order afterwards to get 
a post as a Government official. But my thirst for knowledge 
conquered my ambition, and I again resumed my studies. I 
even passed two successful examinations in criminal law, but 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. ii. pp. 3-4. 



108 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

after that all my good intentions fell to the ground. Spring 
came on, and the delights of country life again attracted me to 
the estate.' 1 

This period of his Petersburg life we can follow through his 
letters to his brother Sergey. From these we quote one passage 
bearing a general interest. On February 13, 1848, he wrote 
to his brother : 

' I am writing you this letter from St. Petersburg, where I 
intend remaining for ever. All are urging me to remain and 
serve, except Ferzen and Lyof. So I have decided to remain 
here for my examination and then serve ; and if I do not pass 
(everything may happen), then I shall begin to serve, were it 
even in the fourteenth rank. I know many Government officials 
of this second category who serve no worse than we of the 
first. In a word, I will tell you that Petersburg life has a great 
and good influence on me ; it accustoms me to activity, and 
involuntarily takes the place of a curriculum. Somehow one 
cannot be idle ; all are occupied, all are busy ; indeed, one 
cannot find a man with whom one could lead a disorderly life, 
and one can't do it by one's self. 

* I know that you will not believe that I have altered ; that 
you will say, " This is already the twentieth time, and still no 

good comes of you; you are the most frivolous fellow " 

No, I have altered in quite a different way from what I did. 
Then I used to say to myself, " Well now, I shall change." 
But now I see that I have changed, and I say, " I have 
changed." 

* Above all, I am now fully convinced that one cannot live by 
abstract speculation and philosophy, but that it is necessary to 
live positively, i.e. to be a practical man. This is a great step 
forward and a great change. This has never once happened 
with me before. And if one wishes to live and is young, then 
in Russia there is no other place but St. Petersburg. Whatever 
tendency any one may have, there all may be satisfied, and all 
may be developed, and that without any trouble. As to the 
means of life for a bachelor life here, it is not at all expensive, 
and, on the contrary, it is cheaper and better than at Moscow, 
excepting lodging. 

' Tell all our folk that / love and greet all, and that in 
summer I shall perhaps be in the country, but perhaps not. 

1 K. Loewenfeld, Qesprache mit und iiber Tolstoy, s. 87. 



DEBTS 109 

In summer I want to take leave of absence, and visit the neigh- 
bourhood of St. Petersburg ; also I want to go to Helsingfors 
and Revel. For God's sake, write to me for once in your life. 
I should like to know how you and all ours will receive this 
news. As for me, I am afraid of writing to them ; I have been 
so long without writing that they are probably angry, and 
especially am I ashamed before Tatiana Alexandrovna ; ask 
her to forgive me.' 

Alas, these good intentions were not to be realised all at 
once. Strange as it may seem now, yet at that time Tolstoy's 
brother had a certain right to call him a ' frivolous fellow,' as 
Tolstoy himself confessed to him. 

Thus in his letter of May 1, 1848, he wrote : 

* Seryozha ! I think you are already saying I am a most 
frivolous fellow. And saying the truth. God knows what I 
have been up to ! I went to St. Petersburg without any 
reason, there I have done nothing necessary, only spent a 
heap of money and run up debts. Stupid ! Insufferably 
stupid ! You can't believe how it torments me. Above all, 
the debts, which I must pay and as quickly as possible, because 
if I do not soon pay them, I shall besides the money lose my 
reputation too. Before I get my next year's income I abso- 
lutely require 3500 roubles : 1200 for the Guardians' Council, 
1600 to pay my debts, 700 for my current expenses. I know 
you will exclaim but what is to be done ? Such stupidity is 
accomplished once in a lifetime. I had to do penance for my 
freedom (there was no one to thrash me, and this was my chief 
misfortune) and for philosophy, and so I have paid premium. 
Be so kind as to arrange to get me out of the false and odious 
position in which I now am without a penny at my disposal 
and in debt all round. 

* You probably know that our troops are all starting for the 
campaign, and that a part of the 2nd Corps have crossed the 
frontier and, so they say, are already in Vienna. 

* I had begun to attend my examinations as " candidate " for 
my degree, and have, in fact, successfully passed two, but I 
have now altered my mind and want to enter the Horse Guards 
as a volunteer. I am ashamed of writing this to you because I 
know you love me, and will be grieved over all my silly actions 
and reckless behaviour. Even while writing this letter I have 
several times got up and blushed, as you also will do on reading 



110 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

it, but what is to be done ? the past cannot be altered, and the 
future is in my hands. 

* Please God I will also some day amend myself and become a 
respectable man ; more than all I rely upon the service as volun- 
teer, it will teach me practical life, and nolens volens I shall 
have to serve up to an officer's rank. With luck, i.e. if the Guards 
should be in action, I may be promoted even before the end of 
the two years' term. The Guards start for the campaign at the 
end of May. Now I can do nothing, first, because I have no 
money, I do not need much (again in my own opinion), and, 
secondly, my two certificates of birth are at Yasnaya ; get them 
sent as soon as possible. Please do not be angry with me as 
it is I feel my nothingness too much but quickly do what I 
ask. Good-bye. Do not show this letter to Aunty, I do not 
wish to give her pain.' 

Soon after, these plans too were dismissed. In one of his 
subsequent letters to his brother, Tolstoy says : 

* In my last letter I wrote you a lot of nonsense, of which the 
chief was that I intended to enter the Horse Guards ; I shall 
stick to this plan only if I do not succeed in passing the 
examinations and the war should be a serious one.' 

He probably did not consider the war sufficiently 'serious,' 
for he did not enter military service. 

In the spring he came back to Yasnaya Polyana accompanied 
by a clever German musician, who was, however, fond of drink. 
He met him first at the house of his friends, the Perfiliefs, and 
since then had given himself up to music. The German's name 
was Rudolph. 

Up to the time of his departure to the Caucasus in 1851, 
Tolstoy lived partly in Moscow, and partly in Yasnaya Pol- 
yana. During this time he developed a phase of asceticism, 
but varied with outbreaks of feasting, sports, card-playing, 
visiting gipsies, &c. 

During these three years of his life Tolstoy tasted of every- 
thing which a passionate and energetic young man could 
seize. 

At the same time he neglected his diary, for want of time. 
Only in the middle of 1850 did he recover himself and begin 
his diary with confession and self-accusation and expressions of 
a desire to write down frankly his reminiscences of these ' dis- 
gracefully spent three years of his life.' 



EXTRACTS FROM HIS DIARY 111 

In his wish to begin a regular life he made out a programme 
of each day from morning to night : estate affairs, bathing, 
diary, music, meals, rest, reading. 

But of course the programme and the rules were not adhered 
to, and in the diary there was again an entry recording how 
little he was pleased with himself. 

This period of struggle would last for whole months, then 
suddenly a wave of unrestrained passion would break out and 
bear down all external restraints. 

Like a drowning man who clings to a straw, he would, 
when carried away by his passion, catch at various feelings 
which might keep him from ruin. One of these was self- 
respect. 

'Men whom I consider morally beneath me can do wicked 
things better than I do,' he wrote in his diary, whereupon the 
wicked things would then become odious to him and he would 
give them up. 

Quiet life in the country often helped him to subdue his 
passions. 

It is remarkable that in such everyday occupations as card- 
playing, his noble and generous nature would assert itself. It 
was probably one of his most powerful passions, but still he 
kept himself within limits by making it a rule of honour to 
play only with the rich, his object being that such gain as he 
made should not cause material loss, or humiliate and ruin his 
partner. 

Often not being able to control himself, he would have a fit 
of despair, and then again would recover himself and write in 
his diary : 

'I am living a completely brutish life, although not an 
utterly disorderly one. I have abandoned almost all my 
occupations and have greatly fallen in spirit.' 

Being at one time in straitened circumstances, he actually 
intended to start a business of some kind, thinking he would 
run the mail post in Tula. It was at the end of 1850. 
Fortunately this enterprise was not carried out, and he thus 
avoided many disappointments which would have ensued from 
such uncongenial occupations. Thinking of his failures he 
once made the following note in his diary: 

' These are the causes of my failures : 

'(1) Irresolution, i.e. want of energy. (2) Self-deception. 



112 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

(3) Haste. (4) Fausse-honte.^ (5) A bad frame of mind. 
(6) Instability. (7) The habit of Imitation. (8) Fickleness. 
(9) Thoughtlessness. 1 

The greater part of the winter of 1850-51 he passed in 
Moscow, from which city he often wrote to his aunt in 
Yasnaya, and told her various details of his life. In one of 
the letters he thus describes his lodging and environment : 

' It consists of four rooms a dining-room, where I already 
have a piano which I have hired; a drawing-room furnished 
with arm-chairs and tables in walnut, and covered with red 
cloth and decorated with three large mirrors; a study where 
I have my writing-table, desk, and arm-chair, which always 
reminds me of our disputes about this last piece of furniture, 
and a room big enough to be both bedroom and dressing-room, 
and besides all this a small ante-room. 

' I dine at home on schi and kasha, with which I am quite 
content. I am only waiting for the confections and home- 
made wines in order to have everything in accordance with my 
country habits. 

* For forty roubles I have bought a sleigh of a style which 
is now very fashionable Sergey must know the kind. I have 
bought all that is necessary for the harness, which at the 
present moment is very elegant.' 

Evidently his aunt felt great fears about his behaviour 
in Moscow; in fact she gave him advice and warned him 
against bad acquaintances, for in the next letter he writes 
to her: 

'Why are you so set against Islenief? If it is in order 
to warn me against him, that is unnecessary, as he is not 
at Moscow. All you say on the subject of the evil of 
gambling is very true, and I often recall it, and consequently 
I think that I will play cards no more. " I think," but I 
soon hope to tell you for certain. 

' All you say about society is true, as is everything you say, 
especially in your letters, first because you write like Madame 
de Sevigne, and secondly because I cannot dispute it in my 
usual way. You also say much that is kind about myself. 
I am convinced that praises do as much good as evil. They 
do good because they maintain one in the good qualities which 



^MMJU ucuauac tiicj maintain uuc 111 i/nc guuu. UUHUUGB wiuiii 

False shame, i.e. French expression for being ashamed of that which is 
shameful. 



not shameful. 



LETTER TO HIS AUNT 113 

are praised, and they do evil because they increase vanity. 
I am sure that yours can only do me good, being dictated 
by sincere friendship. It goes without saying that this is 
so, so far as I deserve them. 

'I think I have deserved them during all the time of my 
sojourn at Moscow, I am satisfied with myself. 1 

He also called at Yasnaya, from which place he again went 
to Moscow in March 1851 ; after his return from this trip, 
he wrote in his diary that, in coming to Moscow, he had three 
ends in view card-playing, marriage, and securing an official 
situation. However, he did not obtain even one of these 
objects. He conceived a dislike for gambling because he had 
become conscious of the vileness of this passion ; he put oft* 
marrying because the three things which he recognised as 
conducing to marriage love, reason, and destiny were not 
present. He could not secure an appointment, as he had 
not at hand certain papers which were necessary for this 
purpose. 

During the above-mentioned sojourn in Moscow he wrote 
to his aunt Tatiana, March 8th : 

' Lately, in a book I was reading, the author said that the 
first symptoms of spring generally act upon men's morals. 
" With the new birth of nature one would like to feel oneself 
also being born again, one regrets the past, the time badly 
employed, one repents of one's weakness, and the future 
appears as a bright spot before one, one becomes better 
morally better," This, as far as I am concerned, is perfectly 
true. Since I have begun to live independently spring has 
always put me in a good disposition, in which I have per- 
severed for a period more or less extended, but it is always 
the winter that is a stumbling-block for me I always then 
go wrong. 

* However, in comparison with past winters, the last is 
without doubt the pleasantest and most rational I have 
passed. I have amused myself, have gone out into society, 
have laid up pleasant impressions, and, at the same time, 
have not deranged my finances, though, it is true, neither 
have I arranged them. 1 

The following letter was written by him after his brother 
Nicholas returned from the Caucasus ; he writes : 

' The arrival of Nicolay has been an agreeable surprise for 

VOL. I. H 



114 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

me, as I had almost lost all hope of his coming here. I have 
been so glad to see him that I have even somewhat neglected 
my duties, or rather my habits. 

' I am now once more alone and literally alone I go nowhere 
and receive no one. I am making plans for spring and summer 
do you approve of them ? Towards the end of May I shall 
come to Yasnaya ; I will pass a month or two there, and will 
endeavour to keep Nicolay there as long as possible, and then 
I will go with him for a tour in the Caucasus. 1 

In the midst of these disturbing scenes of worldly pleasure, 
card-playing, sensual indulgence, carousals with gipsies and 
sport, there would come periods of remorse and humiliation. 
Thus he would write a sermon while preparing for sacrament, 
but his sermon remained unread. 

At the same time began attempts at serious artistic writing. 

Up to 1850 he intended to write a novel of gipsy life. 
Another plan of the same time was worked out on the lines 
of the Sentimental Journey of Sterne. 

* He once sat at the window reflecting and observing all 
that took place in the street. 

' There goes a constable. Who is he and what is his life ? 
And that carriage that went by, who is in it? and where 
is he going and what is he thinking about? And who live 
in this house ? What is their inner life ? . . . How interesting 
it would be to describe all this! What an interesting book 
could be written upon it.' 

This changeable and dangerous period of life was cut short 
by his sudden departure for the Caucasus. 



PART III 

MILITARY SERVICE 

(1851-1857) 



PART III 

MILITARY SERVICE (1851-1857) 
CHAPTER VII 

THE CAUCASUS 

Departure from Yasnaya Polyana The cause Letters to Tatiana from 
Moscow Tolstoy's reminiscences of his passing through Kazan 
Journey on horses In boats on the river Volga His letter to Tatiana 
from Astrakhan Historical information about the Caucasus From 
Astrakhan to Starogladovsk First impressions of Caucasian nature 
The mountains The post Starogladovsk The village Stari Yurt The 
night prayer The mountains Dissatisfaction with life Wherein lies 
happiness ? The reasoning of Olenin His love for the Cossack girl The 
letter of Olenin to his Moscow friends Letter to Tatiana on novel 
writing The meeting of Ilya Tolstoy and Prince Baryatinsky Petition 
to enter the military service Tiflis A letter to his brother Sergey 
describing the life in Tiflis and in Starogladovsk A letter to Tatiana 
concerning his affection for her and the story of a prayer and his loss at 
play Friendship with Sado The return to Starogladovsk A letter to 
his aunt about his visions of life at Yasnaya The three passions : card- 
playing, sensuality, and vanity The first hint of his vocation Pyati- 
gorsk A letter to Tatiana A letter to his brother Sergey describing the 
life at Pyatigorsk Thoughts of serving oneself, men, and God Justice 
and striving after perfection Completion of Childhood and its despatch 
to The Contemporary Meeting with his sister and her husband His 
passion for spiritualism Return to Starogladovsk Meditations, during 
his journey, concerning life in the present Striving after simplicity 
Letters of Nekrassof A letter to Tatiana Impression made upon his 
family by Childhood Impression made on the circle of authors by the 
novel Silence of the critics The article of 1854 Dostoyevsky's interest 
aroused Maintenance of the ' writing name ' Plan of A Novel of a 
Russian Landowner Delay in his promotion The campaign The danger 
of February 18, 1853 The attitude of the censor to Tolstoy's early works 
An adventure The danger of being captured on June 13, 1853 Reminis- 
cences of Poltoratsky Reminiscences of Bers Rules of life Letters to 
his brother Sergey complaining of the tiresome waiting for promotion 
The writing of Boyhood Completion of the tale, The Memoirs of a Marker 
The Lord's Prayer St. George's Cross Two failures to get it Recollec- 
tions of Yanzhul Characteristics of Alexeyef Passing of an officer's 
examination Departure to Russia Tolstoy's attitude to Caucasian life. 

THE unsuccessful attempt to keep house, the impossibility of 
establishing good relations with the peasants, and the passionate, 



118 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

perilous life, full of all kinds of excesses, which was mentioned 
in the previous chapter, induced Tolstoy to search for a means 
of changing his mode of life. 

According to his own testimony, his life was so insipid and 
dissipated that he was ready for any change in it. For instance, 
his brother-in-law, Valerian Petrovich Tolstoy, being engaged, 
was going back to Siberia to arrange some business matters 
there before his marriage, and, as he was leaving the house, 
Tolstoy jumped into his tarantas, 1 without a hat, and in his 
blouse only ; and it seems as if the only reason why he did 
not join in the journey to Siberia was simply that he found 
there was no hat on his head. 

At last a serious incident took place that induced a change of 
life. In April 1851, Nicholas, Tolstoy's eldest brother, arrived 
from the Caucasus; he was an officer in the Caucasian army 
and on leave of absence, and had shortly to return. Tolstoy 
seized this opportunity, and in spring 1851 started with him 
for the Caucasus. 

They left Yasnaya Polyana on April 20, and spent two weeks 
in Moscow, and from there he wrote to his aunt Tatiana at 
Yasnaya : 

* I have been to the promenade at Sokolniki during detest- 
able weather, and therefore have not met any of the society 
ladies I wish to see. As you assert that I am a man of 
resources, I went among the plebeians in the gipsy tents. You 
can easily imagine the inner struggle which there took place 
for and against. However, I came out victorious, i.e. having 
given nothing but my blessing to the merry descendants of the 
illustrious Pharaohs. Nicholas has made the discovery that I 
should be a very agreeable travelling companion, were it not 
for my cleanliness. He gets irritated over my changing my 
underclothing, as he says, a dozen times a day. For my part 
I find him a very pleasant companion, were it not for his un- 
cleanliness. I don't know which of us is right.' 

From Moscow they passed through Kazan, where they visited 
V. I. Yushkof, their guardian-aunt's husband, with whom they 
had lived in Kazan, and also saw Madame Zagoskin, a friend of 
this aunt's, the directress of the Kazan Institute, an eccentric 
and clever woman. 

In Zagoskin's house Tolstoy met Z. M., an ex-pupil of the 

1 Russian travelling-cart. Trans. 



TRIP TO THE CAUCASUS 119 

Institute, and conceived for her a sentimental kind of love, 
which, as usual, owing to his bashfulness, he could not make up 
his mind to express, and which he took away with him to the 
Caucasus. 

In Madame Zagoskin's house, as that lady always secured the 
young men who were the most comme ilfaut, he met and almost 
made friends with a young lawyer, the procurator Ogolin, and 
took a journey with the latter into the country to pay a visit 
to V. I. Yushkof. Ogolin was a new type of the official of 
that period. 

Tolstoy used to relate how struck Yushkof was being 
accustomed to see a procurator as a grave, respectable, and 
hoary personage in a uniform, with a cross on his breast and a 
star when he beheld Ogolin, and got acquainted with him, 
under circumstances of ease and freedom. 

'When Ogolin and I had arrived and approached the 
house, opposite which was a group of young birch trees, I 
suggested to Ogolin that, while the servant was announcing 
our arrival, we should compete as to which of us would climb 
these birches best and highest. When Yushkof came out and 
saw the procurator climbing up a tree, he could not recover 
himself for a long time.' 

Tolstoy, as he told me himself, was in his most stupid and 
worldly mood during this trip. He related to me how his 
brother made him feel his stupidity in Kazan. They were 
walking about the town when a gentleman drove past them in 
a dolgousha, 1 leaning with ungloved hands on a stick resting on 
the step of the carriage. 

' How evident it is that this man is some sort of " scally- 
wag,"" ' said Lyof Tolstoy, addressing his brother. 

* Why ? ' asked Nicolay. 

4 Why, because he has got no gloves. 1 

' Why should he be good for nothing because he has no 
gloves ? ' asked Nicolay, with his hardly noticeable, kind, clever, 
and mocking smile. 

Nicolay always thought and did everything, not because 
others thought and did so, but because he himself believed it 
to be right, and he always thought and did what he believed 
to be right. Thus he planned to go to the Caucasus not vid 
Voronezh and through the territory of the Don Cossacks, as 

1 A kind of jaunting-car on four wheels. 



120 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

was the rule, but on horseback to Saratof, from Saratof in a 
boat down the Volga to Astrakhan, and from Astrakhan in a 
post-chaise to the Stanitsa, and this plan he put in execution. 

They hired a fishing-boat, placed the tarantas in it, and 
being assisted by a pilot and two oarsmen, sailed here and 
there, sometimes rowing, sometimes carried by the current. 
The trip lasted about three weeks, when they reached Astra- 
khan. From thence Lyof wrote to his aunt : 

1 We are at Astrakhan, and on the point of leaving it, thus 
having still a journey of 400 versts to do. I have passed a 
most agreeable week at Kazan. My journey to Saratof was 
disagreeable, but, as compensation, the passage from there to 
Astrakhan in a little boat was very poetical and full of charm, 
owing to the novelty of the locality, and for me even from the 
very method of travelling. Yesterday I wrote a long letter to 
Marie, in which I tell her about my sojourn at Kazan. I do 
not tell you anything about it, for fear of repeating myself, 
although I am sure you will not confuse the two letters. So 
far as it has gone, I am exceedingly satisfied with my journey. 
There are many things which make me think, and then the 
very change of locality is pleasant. In passing through Moscow, 
I subscribed to a lending-library, so that I have plenty of 
reading, which I do even in the tarantas, and, besides, as you 
can well imagine, Nicholas 1 society greatly contributes to my 
enjoyment. I do not cease to think of you and of all ours ; 
sometimes I even reproach myself for having abandoned the 
life which your affection rendered so sweet ; but it is merely a 
postponement, and I shall have only the more pleasure in seeing 
you again. Were I not pressed, I would write to Serge ; but I 
put this off until I shall be quietly settled down. Embrace 
him on my behalf, and tell him that I greatly repent of the 
coldness which there was between us before my departure, and 
for which I blame myself alone. 1 

A few words must be said as to what the Caucasus is, to 
make the reader understand the facts of Tolstoy's Caucasian 
life, as well as his Caucasian tales. 

When the kingdom of Moscow became so strong as to be 
able to make head against the Tartar tribes, it gradually 
pushed them to the south-east, and, having conquered the 
kingdoms of Kazan and Astrakhan, it came into conflict with 
wild tribes of mountaineers, who inhabited the northern slopes 



THE CAUCASUS 121 

of the Caucasian mountains. To keep them in check, the 
Russian government had, about the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, erected a whole line of Cossack outposts on the left 
bank of the Terek and the right bank of the Kuban. 

On the other hand, the Georgian kingdom, which lies on the 
southern slope of the Caucasian mountains, and which was up 
to that time independent, had, with its King Heraclius II., 
become subject to Russia in the beginning of the nineteenth 
century. The subjugation of the mountain tribes between 
Georgia and Russia became indispensable on political grounds, 
and the struggle went on for over fifty years. 

From the Cossack posts along the banks of the Terek and the 
Kuban, the Russians gradually pushed on farther to the very 
edge of the mountains. But they confined themselves chiefly 
to making raids : a military detachment attacked the villages 
in the mountains, destroyed pastures, drove off cattle, captured 
as many inhabitants as possible, and with such booty returned 
to their posts. The mountaineers in their turn made reprisals : 
they pursued the detachments on their way back, and with 
their well-aimed carbine shots inflicted on them great losses; 
they would hide behind the ramparts in the woods and narrow 
ravines, and sometimes even appear suddenly at the very posts, 
where they massacred many, and carried off men and women 
to the mountains. From time to time the struggle abated, 
but became fiercer when, taking advantage of our ill fortune, 
there arose leaders who managed to unite under their command 
the more powerful and warlike tribes. The fanaticism of the 
latter was then kindled by the preaching of a holy war against 
the infidels. The Russians had to encounter great difficulties, 
and suffered heavy losses from the most warlike of the Cau- 
casian tribes, the Tchetchenians, who live on the forest-clad 
plains of the right bank of the Terek, near its tributaries 
Sunja, Arguny, and others, and higher up in the mountain 
gorges of Itchkeria. Our spirit of enterprise grew stronger or 
slackened, according to the talent and energy of the commander 
who happened to be directing the military operations. 

With the appointment in 1856 of Prince Baryatinsky as 
governor of the Caucasus, events took a decisive turn. Profit- 
ing by his personal influence over the Emperor Alexander II., 
he summoned an army of 200,000 men, a greater one than was 
ever before seen in the Caucasus. A considerable part of this 



122 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

army he directed against Tchetchnya, Itchkeria, and Daghestan, 
then under the leadership of the well-known Shamyl. 

The talent and energy of this leader, and the fanaticism of 
the mountaineers, who recognised him as their Imaum, were 
all crushed under the weight of this powerful army led by 
Yevdokimof, whom nothing could stop. In 1857 Shamyl's 
residence, the village Vedeno in the centre of Itchkeria, 
capitulated, and in 1859 Shamyl himself surrendered to Prince 
Baryatinsky in his new Daghestan stronghold Gooniba. 

At the beginning of the fifties, before his appointment as 
governor of the Caucasus, Prince Baryatinsky appeared in the 
Northern Caucasus as commander of the left wing of the 
Russian army. 

Just about this time Tolstoy arrived in the Caucasus, and 
the events described in his Caucasian tales, Incursion, The 
Cossacks, Felling Wood, and Meeting in the Detachment, took 
place about this time and in this locality. 

From Astrakhan both brothers travelled in a post-chaise 
through Lizliar to the village of Starogladovsk, where the 
eldest brother was stationed. Tolstoy came to the Caucasus in 
a private capacity and settled down with his brother. 

The first impression which the Caucasus made on him was 
not a profound one. Shortly after he reached the country he 
thus describes it in a letter to his aunt. 

' I have arrived well and whole, but am now, towards the end 
of May, at the Starogladovsk. I am feeling rather sad. I 
have here seen at close quarters the kind of life Nicolay is 
leading, and I have made the acquaintance of the officers who 
form the local society. The kind of life led here is not very 
attractive as it has at first presented itself to me, for the 
country which I had expected to find very fine is not at all so. 
As the village is situated on low land there is no outlook, and 
besides, the lodgings are bad as well as everything that con- 
stitutes the comfort of life. As to the officers, they are, as you 
can imagine, people without education, but at the same time 
very good fellows, and, above all, they are very much attached 
to Nicolay. 

' Alexeyef, the commander, is a little chap, with light hair 
approaching red, with moustaches and whiskers and a piercing 
voice, but an excellent Christian, somewhat reminding one of 
Volkof, but not canting like him. Then B , a young officer, 




LEO TOLSTOY AT THE TIME OF HIS DEPARTURE 
FOR THE CAUCASUS, 1851 



STARI YURT 123 

childish and good-natured, reminding one of Petrusha. Then 
an old captain, Bilkovsky of the Ural Cossacks, an old soldier, 
simple but noble, brave and good. I will confess to you that 
at first many things in this society shocked me, but I have 
become accustomed to it, without however becoming intimate 
with the gentlemen. I have found a happy medium in which 
there is neither pride nor familiarity. In this, however, I had 
merely to follow Nicolay's example. 1 

However, he did not stay very long in Starogladovsk. 

He and his brother moved to Stari Yurt, a fortified camp, to 
shelter the sick in Goryachevodsk, where, shortly before, hot 
springs possessing strong healing virtues had been discovered. 
Again we quote the description of this place from Tolstoy's 
letter to his aunt, written on his arrival there in July 1851. 

* Nicolay left a week after his arrival, and I followed him, so 
that we have been here for almost three weeks, and we live in 
a tent, but, as the weather is fine, and I am somewhat adapt- 
ing myself to this kind of life, I am feeling very well. Here 
there are beautiful views. To begin with the place where the 
springs are. It is an enormous mountain of rocks lying one 
upon the other, some of which have become detached, forming 
a sort of grotto, others remain suspended at a great height. 
They are all intersected by torrents of warm water, which in 
some places fall with much noise, and, especially in the morn- 
ing, cover all the elevated part of the mountain with a white 
vapour which is continually rising from this boiling water. The 
water is so hot they can boil eggs hard in it in three minutes. 
In the middle of the valley, on the chief torrent, there are three 
water-mills, one above the other, constructed in a peculiar and 
very picturesque way. All day the Tartar women keep coming 
to wash their clothes above and beneath these mills. I should 
mention that they wash them with their feet. It's like an ant- 
heap in continual motion. The women are for the most part 
handsome and well built. The costume of Oriental women is 
graceful, notwithstanding their poverty ; the picturesque groups 
formed by the women, together with the savage beauty of the 
place, make a truly beautiful sight. I sometimes remain for 
hours admiring the landscape. Then the view from the top of 
the mountain is still finer and of quite another kind, but I am 
afraid of boring you with my descriptions. 

i I am very glad to be at the waters, as I benefit by them. I 



124 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

take mineraFbaths, and I no longer feel pain in my feet. I 
always have rheumatism, but during my journey on the water 
I think I took cold. I have seldom felt so well as now, and 
notwithstanding the great heat, I take much exercise. 

' Here the type of officers is the same as that of which I have 
already spoken to you. There are many of these, I know them 
all, and my relations with them are the same.' 

According to Tolstoy, Yurt was a large village with a 
population of 1500, and remarkable for its beautiful mountain 
situation. In the mountains above the village rose a hot 
sulphur spring. Its temperature was so high that, according 
to Tolstoy, his brother's dog after falling into the spring scalded 
himself so much that he died from the effects. The spring 
divides itself into many small brooklets which run down the 
mountain side. These brooklets were so small that it was easy 
to bank them up. The inhabitants of the village used them 
for working water-mills. The properties of the spring are 
superior to those of Pyatigorsk. 

From this village Tolstoy joined in a raid as a volunteer. 
Here he had glorious moments of youthful poetical enthusiasm. 

Especially memorable to him was one night, which he has 
described in his diary in terms of unique spiritual beauty. 

' STAEI YUET, llth June 1851. 

* Yesterday I hardly slept all night. Having written in my 
diary, I began to pray to God. It is impossible to convey the 
sweetness of the feeling which I experienced during prayer. 
I repeated the prayers I generally say : Our Father, to the 
Virgin, to the Trinity, " the gates of mercy," the appeal to the 
guardian angel, and then I still remained at prayer. If one 
were to define prayer as petition or thanksgiving, then I did 
not pray. I longed for something sublime and good, but what, 
I cannot convey, although I was clearly conscious that I desired 
it. I wished to blend into unity with the all-enfolding Being. 
I asked Him to pardon my crimes ; yet no, I did not ask this, 
for I felt that He had given me this blissful moment, He had 
pardoned me. I asked and at the same time felt that I had 
nothing to ask, that I could not and did not know how to ask. 
I thanked Him, but not in words, not in thoughts. I com- 
bined all in one feeling, both petition and thanksgiving. The 
feeling of fear completely vanished. None of the feelings 



DISSATISFACTION WITH LIFE 125 

Faith, Hope, and Love could I have disengaged from the 
general feeling. No, here it is, the feeling which I experi- 
enced yesterday it was love to God, an elevated love com- 
bining in itself all that is good, and repudiating all that is evil. 
How dreadful it was for me to look at all the trivial and vicious 
side of my life. I could not comprehend how it was this had 
attracted me. How I prayed God from a pure heart to accept 
me into His bosom. I did not feel the flesh, I was . . . but 
no, the carnal, trivial side again asserted itself, and an hour 
had not passed before I almost consciously heard the voice of 
vice, of vanity and of the empty side of life. I knew whence 
this voice came, I knew it had ruined my bliss, I struggled, 
yet yielded to it. I fell asleep in dreams of fame and of 
women. But it was not my fault, I could not help it. Eternal 
bliss here is impossible. Sufferings are necessary. Why ? I 
do not know ? But how dare I say, I do not know ? How 
dared I think it was possible to know the ways of Fate ? It 
is the source of reason, and reason wishes to fathom it ! ... 

* The mind is lost in these depths of wisdom and emotion, 
and is afraid of insulting Him. I thank Him for the moment 
of bliss which showed me both my insignificance and my great- 
ness. I wish to pray, but I do not know how. I wish to 
attain comprehension, but dare not I surrender myself to 
Thy will. 

1 Why have I written all this ? How flabbily, how lifelessly, 
even how senselessly have my feelings found expression; and 
yet they were so elevated. 1 

These outbursts of religious emotion were often succeeded 
by periods of depression and apathy. Thus on the 2nd of 
July, whilst yet living in the Stari Yurt, he put down the 
following thoughts: 

*I am just now meditating, recalling all the unpleasant 
moments of my life, which in times of depression alone creep 
into one's mind. . . . No, there is too little delight man is 
too capable of imagining happiness, and too often in one way 
or another Fate strikes him, painfully, very painfully catching 
his tender chord for us to love life, and, besides, there is some- 
thing specially sweet and great in indifference to life, and I 
delight in this feeling. In face of everything how strong I 
appear to myself in this firm conviction that there is nothing 



126 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

to expect here except death. . . . Yet at this very moment I 
am thinking with delight about a saddle I have ordered in 
which I will ride in Circassian attire, and about how I will 
flirt with Cossack girls, and feel despair that my left moustache 
is higher than the right one, and I shall spend two hours 
arranging it/ 

Thus Tolstoy often had to change his abode. The head- 
quarters and the staff-battery, where his brother served, were 
at Starogladovsk, but he was often sent to the outposts, to 
which Tolstoy accompanied him. 

These wild Cossack and Caucasian Tillages were destined to 
become historic. Here the artistic forms of Tolstoy's works 
were conceived, and the first fruit of his creative power came 
forth. The wonderful scenery of the Northern Caucasus, its 
mountains, the river Terek and the Cossack bravery, the almost 
primitive simplicity of life all this in one harmonious whole 
served to cradle these early creations, and to point out the 
work of the world-wide genius, who was to struggle for an 
ideal, to search for truth and the meaning of human life. 

Here we give a description of Tolstoy's arrival at Stari Yurt, 
taken from his novel The Cossacks, in which he so very vividly 
depicts the impression made on him by the majesty of the 
Caucasian Mountains. 

* It was a very clear morning. Suddenly he saw, some twenty 
steps from him, as he thought at first, pure white masses, with 
their delicate contours and the fantastic and sharply defined 
outline of their summits, against the distant sky. And when 
he became aware of the great distance between him and the 
mountains and the sky, and of the immensity of the moun- 
tains, and felt the immeasurableness of that beauty, he was 
frightened, thinking that it was a vision, a dream. He shook 
himself, in order to be rid of his sleep. The mountains 
remained the same. 

4 " What is this ? What is it ? " he asked the driver. 

* " The mountains," the Nogay answered, with indifference. 

* " I have been looking at them myself for a long time," said 
Vanyusha. " It is beautiful ! They will not believe it at 
home ! " 

' In the rapid motion of the vehicle over the even road, the 
mountains seemed to be running along the horizon, gleaming 
in the rising sun with their rosy summits. At first they only 



STAROGLADOVSK 127 

surprised Olenin, but later they gave him pleasure. And later, 
as he gazed longer at this chain of snow-capped peaks, which 
were not connected with other black ones, but rose directly 
from the steppe, he began by degrees to understand their full 
beauty, and to "feel" them. 

'From that moment, everything he saw, everything he 
thought, everything he felt, assumed for him a new, severely 
majestic character, that of the mountains. All the Moscow 
reminiscences, his shame and remorse, all the trite dreams of 
the Caucasus, everything disappeared, and never returned 
again. " Now it has begun," a solemn voice said to him. And 
the road, and the distant line of the Terek, and the villages, 
and the people, all that appeared to him no longer so many 
trifles. 

' He looked at the sky, and he thought of the mountains. He 
looked at himself, and at Vanyusha and again at the moun- 
tains. There, two Cossacks rode by, and their muskets in 
cases evenly vibrated on their backs, and their horses inter- 
mingled their chestnut and grey legs and the mountains. 
Beyond the Terek was seen the smoke in a native village and 
the mountains. 

* The sun rose and glistened on the Terek beyond the reeds 
and the mountains. From the Cossack village came a native 
cart, and women, beautiful young women, walking and the 
mountains. " Abreks l race through the steppes, and I am 
travelling, and fear them not : I have a gun, and strength, and 
youth " and the mountains/ 2 

In August he is again at Starogladovsk. 

From the story The Cossacks, which bears an autobio- 
graphical character, we can form an approximate idea of how 
he passed his time in the Cossack village. His attempt to 
come more in touch with the people Cossacks, sport, the 
contemplation of the beauties of nature and the incessant 
inner strife which never abandoned this man, and is vividly 
expressed in his works, such was Tolstoy^s life of that period. 

4 Why am I happy, and why have I lived before ? ' he 
thought. ' How exacting I used to be ! How I concocted 
and caused nothing but shame and woe for myself ! ' And 
suddenly it seemed that a new world was open to him. 

1 Mountaineer braves. 

2 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. ii. pp. 97-99. 



128 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

( Happiness is this,' he said to himself : ' happiness consists 
in living for others. This is clear. The desire for happiness 
is inborn in man ; consequently it is legitimate. In attempt- 
ing to satisfy it in an egotistical manner, that is, by seeking 
wealth, glory, comforts of life, and love, the circumstances may 
so arrange themselves that it is impossible to satisfy these 
desires. Consequently these desires are illegitimate, but the 
need of happiness is not illegitimate. Now, what desires are 
these that can always be satisfied, in spite of external condi- 
tions ? What desires ? Love, self-sacrifice ! ' 

He was so rejoiced and excited when he discovered this 
truth, which seemed to be new, that he leaped up and im- 
patiently began to look around for some one to sacrifice 
himself for, to do good to, and to love. ' I do not need 
anything for myself, 1 he proceeded in his thought ; ' then why 
should I not live for others ? ' 1 

Already then the voice of love touched a powerful chord in 
the soul of the young man, who had hardly entered the life of 
social activity. 

But outward events were still running their course, carrying 
the strong animal nature of man along its customary path. 

The life of the passionate young man in the Cossack village 
was not devoid of romance. The story of his love is described 
in the tale The Cossacks. 

All the stages of this unreturned affection are vividly 
pictured in that story, and even still better presented in a 
letter to his Moscow friends. That letter shows the author's 
love of wild nature, his passionate desire to live in perfect 
harmony with her, and his sufferings from inability to do so. 
He knew his life in civilised surroundings had torn him away 
from nature and created between them an abyss impossible to 
overcome. Here is the most striking and essential part of this 
letter : 

* How contemptible and pitiable you all appear to me ! 
You do not know what happiness nor what life is ! You have 
first to taste life in all its artless beauty; you must see 
and understand what I see before me each day : the eternal, 
inaccessible snows of the mountains, and majestic woman in 
her pristine beauty, as the first woman must have issued from 
the hands of her Creator and then it will be clear who it is 
1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. ii. p. 196. 



LOVE FOR A COSSACK GIRL 129 

that is being ruined, and who lives according to the truth, 
you or I. 

' If you only knew how detestable and pitiable you are to me 
in your delusions ! The moment there rise before me, instead 
of my cabin, my forest, and my love, those drawing-rooms, 
those women with pomaded hair, through which the false locks 
appear, those unnaturally lisping lips, those concealed and 
distorted limbs, and that prattle of the drawing-rooms, which 
pretends to be conversation, but has no right to be called so 
an insufferable feeling of disgust comes over me. I see before 
me those dull faces, those rich, marriageable girls, with an expres- 
sion on the face which says, " That's all right, you may . Just 
come up to me, even though I am a rich, marriageable girl ; " 
that sitting down and changing of places; that impudent 
pairing of people, and that never-ending gossip and hypocrisy ; 
those rules to this one your hand, to that one a nod, and 
with that one a chat; and finally, that eternal ennui in the 
blood, which passes from generation to generation (and con- 
sciously even then, with the conviction of its necessity). You 
must understand, or believe it. You must see and grasp what 
truth and beauty are, and everything which you say and think, 
all your wishes for your own happiness and for mine, will be 
dispersed to the winds. Happiness consists in being with 
Nature, in seeing it, and holding converse with it. " The Lord 
preserve him, but he will, no doubt, marry a Cossack woman, 
and will be entirely lost to society," I imagine them saying 
about me, with genuine compassion, whereas it is precisely this 
that I wish : to be entirely lost, in your sense of the word, and 
to marry a simple Cossack woman ; I dare not do it, because 
that would be the acme of happiness, of which I am unworthy.' l 

* Three months have passed since I for the first time saw the 
Cossack maiden, Maryanka. The conceptions and prejudices 
of the society from which I had issued were still fresh in me. 
I did not believe then that I could fall in love with this woman. 
I admired her, as I admired the beauty of the mountains and 
of the sky, nor could I help admiring her, for she is as beautiful 
as they. Then I felt that the contemplation of this beauty 
had become a necessity of my life, and I began to ask myself 
whether I did not love her ; but I did not find in myself any- 
thing resembling the feeling such as I had imagined it to be. 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. ii. pp. 260, 261. 
VOL. I. I 



130 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

This sentiment resembled neither the longing for solitude nor 
the desire for matrimony, nor platonic love, still less carnal 
love, which I had experienced. I had to see and hear her, to 
know that she was near, and I was not exactly happy, but 
calm. After an evening party which I had attended with her, 
and at which I had touched her, I felt that between this 
woman and myself existed an indissoluble, though unacknow- 
ledged bond, against which it would be vain to struggle. But 
I did struggle. I said to myself: "Is it possible for me to 
love a woman who will never comprehend the spiritual interests 
of my life ? Can I love a woman for her mere beauty, can 
I love a statue of a woman ? " I asked myself, and I was 
loving her all the time, though I did not trust my own 
sentiment. 

' After the party, when I had spoken to her for the first 
time, our relations were changed. Before that time she was 
to me a foreign, but majestic, object of external Nature ; after 
the party she became a human being for me. I have met her 
and spoken with her; and I have been with her father at 
work, and have passed whole evenings in their company. And 
in these close relations she has remained, to my thinking, just 
as pure, inaccessible, and majestic. To all questions she has 
answered in the same calm, proud, and gaily indifferent manner. 
At times she has been gracious, but for the most part every 
glance, every word, every motion of hers, has expressed the 
same, not contemptuous, but repressing and enticing in- 
difference. 

' Each day I tried, with a feigning smile on my lips, to 
dissemble, and, with the torment of passion and of desires in 
my heart, I spoke jestingly to her. But she saw that I was 
dissembling, and yet looked gaily and simply at me. This 
situation grew intolerable to me. I did not wish to tell lies 
before her, and wanted to let her know everything I thought 
and everything I felt. I was very much excited ; that was in 
the vineyard. I began to tell her of my love in words that I 
am ashamed to recall. I am ashamed to think of them, because 
I ought never to have dared to tell her that, and because she 
stood immeasurably above the words and above the feeling 
which I intended to express to her. I held my tongue, and 
since that day my situation has been insufferable. I did not 
wish to lower myself by persisting in the former jocular rela- 



FIRST HINT OF VOCATION 131 

tions, and I was conscious that I was not yet ripe for straight- 
forward, simple relations with her. I asked myself in despair, 
"What shall I do?" 

' In my preposterous dreams I imagined her now as my 
mistress and now as my wife, and I repelled both thoughts in 
disgust. It would be terrible to make a mistress of her. It 
would be murder. And it would be still worse to make a lady 
of her, the wife of Dmitri Andreyevich Olenin, as one of our 
officers has made a lady of a Cossack girl of this place, whom 
he has married. If I could turn Cossack, become a Lukashka, 
steal herds of horses, fill myself with red wine, troll songs, kill 
people, and, when drunk, climb through the window to pass 
the night with her, without asking myself who I am and why I 
am it would be a different matter ; then we could understand 
each other, and I might be happy.' 1 

But he could not become another Lukashka, and could not 
therefore find happiness in that direction. 

In September he writes a letter to his aunt, through which 
the future writer can already be clearly seen. It is his serious 
attitude in the expression of thought that particularly strikes 
one ; probably by that time numberless thoughts and images 
were overcrowding in his mind, and he chose only those which 
he could set forth on paper. He thus expresses this sensation : 

'You have told me several times that you are not in the 
habit of writing drafts of your letters ; I follow your example, 
but I don't manage it as well as you do, for it very often 
happens that I tear up my letters after re-reading them. I do 
not do so from vanity a mistake in spelling, a blot, a sentence 
badly turned do not trouble me, but it is that I cannot manage 
to learn to direct my pen and my ideas. I have just torn up a 
letter to you which I had finished, because I had said in it 
many things I did not wish to say to you, and nothing of what 
I did wish to say. Perhaps you will think that this is dis- 
simulation, and you may say that it is wrong to dissimulate 
with those one loves and by whom one knows one is loved. I 
agree, but you will also agree that one says everything to a 
person towards whom one is indifferent, but that the more a 
person is dear to one, the more things there are one would like 
to conceal from him. 1 

Feeling an access of youthful energy, and having no outlet 
1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. ii. pp. 263, 264. 



for it, Tolstoy often risked his life in taking part in dangerous 
excursions. 

Thus, in company of his friend, the cossack Epishka (described 
in The Cossacks as Yeroshka), he once went to the village 
Hossaf-Yurt, in the mountains. The journey was a dangerous 
one, for the mountaineers sometimes attacked travellers. 

On his safe return from the excursion Tolstoy met the 
commander-in-chief of the left wing, Prince Baryatinsky, 
accompanied by his own relation, Ilya Tolstoy. The latter 
invited Tolstoy to join their company, and this gave him a 
chance of getting well acquainted with the commander-in-chief. 
He expressed on one occasion his satisfaction and praise at 
Tolstoy's cheerful and brave appearance, which he noticed on 
seeing him once after a raid. Then and there he advised him 
to enter military service at once, as Tolstoy still remained a 
civilian, but took part in all the expeditions as a volunteer. 
The flattering opinion of the commander-in-chief and the 
advice of his relations, induced Tolstoy at last to hasten his 
decision and send in his petition to join the army. 

He remained at Starogladovsk during August and September. 
In September he went with his brother Nicolay to Tiflis. His 
brother soon returned, but Tolstoy stayed on in Tiflis to pass 
his examinations and enter the service. 

' We did indeed leave on the 25th, and after a seven days' 
journey, very dull owing to the want of horses at almost every 
posting-house, and very agreeable owing to the beauty of the 
country through which we passed, we arrived on the first of the 
present month. 

* Tiflis is a very civilised town, which to a great extent apes 
St. Petersburg, and greatly succeeds in the imitation. The 
society is choice and rather numerous; there is a Russian 
theatre and an Italian Opera, of which I avail myself as much 
as my restricted means allow. I am living in the German 
colony. It is a suburb, but has for me two great advantages, 
one of being a very pretty place surrounded by gardens and 
vineyards, so that one feels more in the country than in town. 
It is still very warm and very fine, and up to the present 
there is neither snow nor frost. The second advantage is 
that for two tolerably clean rooms I pay five roubles a month, 
whereas in town one could not have similar apartments for 
less than forty roubles a month. Into the bargain I get 



LIFE AT TIFLIS 133 

practice in the German language for nothing, have books, 
occupations, and leisure, since no one comes to disturb me, 
so that on the whole I am not dull. 

* Do you remember, good Aunt, some advice you gave me in 
bygone days that I should write novels ? Well, I am follow- 
ing your advice, and the occupations I am speaking of consist 
in literary work. I do not know whether what I write will 
ever see the light, but it is work which amuses me, and in 
which I have persevered too long to abandon it.' 

This letter is interesting, because it shows us with what 
modesty this great talent was developing its unsuspected ex- 
cellence. He was ailing and doctored himself for two months, 
and wrote his first story, availing himself of occasional leisure 
and solitude. Besides, part of his time was occupied with 
attempts to get an official appointment, which was a difficult 
matter owing to the want of the necessary papers. 

December 23, 1851, he writes the following letter to his 
brother Sergius, giving characteristic details concerning life in 
Tiflis and the village : 

* In a few days the long-desired announcement is to be 
gazetted of my nomination as volunteer private in the 4th 
Battery, and I shall have the pleasure of saluting and following 
with my eyes passing officers and generals. Even here, when 
walking about the streets in my fashionable overcoat and opera 
hat, which I bought here for ten roubles, despite all my splen- 
dour in this attire, I have become so accustomed to the idea of 
putting on a soldier's grey coat that my hand involuntarily 
wishes to seize my hat by the springs and flatten it down. 
However, if my nomination takes place, on that very day I 
will leave Starogladovsk and proceed thence immediately 
for the front, where I will walk or ride in a soldier's cloak or 
a Sackashan coat and will, according to my powers, contribute, 
by the aid of the cannon, to the slaughter of the wild rebellious 
Asiatics. 

' Seryozha, you see by my letter that I am at Tiflis, where I 
arrived as long ago as the 9th of November, so that I have had 
time to hunt a little with the dogs I bought there (at Starogla- 
dovsk), but the dogs that have been sent here I have not 
yet seen. Sport here (i.e. in Sackashan village) is splendid : 
open fields, marshy ground, full of hares, and clusters, not of 
trees but of rushes, in which foxes find cover. I have been out 



134 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

hunting nine times in all, about ten or fifteen versts from the 
village, with two dogs, of which one is excellent and the other 
a good-for-nothing. I caught two foxes and upwards of sixty 
hares. In course of time I shall attempt to hunt deer. I have 
more than once been present in shooting expeditions for wild 
boar and stags, but have killed nothing myself. This sport is 
also very pleasant, but, after becoming accustomed to hunt 
with greyhounds, one cannot care for it. Even as he who has 
become accustomed to smoke Turkish tobacco cannot care 
for the common zhukof, although one may argue that the 
latter is the best. 

* I know your weakness. You will probably wish to know 
who have been and are my acquaintances here and in what 
relations I stand towards them. I must tell you here that this 
point does not in the least interest me, but I will hasten to 
satisfy you. In battery here there are not many officers ; I am 
therefore acquainted with all of them, but very superficially, 
although I enjoy their general cordiality, as Nicolenka and 
myself always have brandy, wine, and refreshments for visitors. 
On these same principles my acquaintance has been made and 
maintained with officers of other regiments with whom I had 
occasion to become acquainted at Stari Yurt, a watering place 
where I lived in summer, and during the expedition in which I 
took part. There are amongst them some more or less decent 
fellows, yet, as I always have more interesting occupations than 
talking to officers, I remain with all of them in good relations. 
Lieutenant Colonel Alexeyef, commander of the battery I 
enter, is a very kind and very vain man. By this latter weak- 
ness of his I have, I confess, profited and thrown some dust 
unintentionally in his eyes I need him. But this also I do 
involuntarily and repent of it. With vain people one becomes 
vain oneself. 

' Here at Tiflis I have three acquaintances. I did not make 
more, first, because I did not wish, and secondly, because I had 
not the opportunity, I have been ill almost all the time, and it 
is only since last week that I have been out. My first acquaint- 
ance is Bagracion of St. Petersburg (Ferzen's comrade). The 
second, Prince Baryatinsky. I made his acquaintance during 
the expedition I took part in under his command and, later, 
spent a day with him in a fort with Ilya Tolstoy, whom I met 
here. This acquaintance naturally does not afford me much 



LETTER TO HIS AUNT 135 

recreation, for you understand on what footing a volunteer 
private may be acquainted with a general. My third acquaint- 
ance is an apothecary's assistant, a Pole reduced to the ranks 
a most amusing creature. I am sure Prince Baryatinsky never 
imagined that he could in any kind of list whatever stand by 
the side of an apothecary's assistant, but so it has happened. 
Nicolenka is on a very good footing here ; the commanders and 
fellow-officers love and respect him. He enjoys, moreover, the 
reputation of a brave officer. I love him more than ever, and 
when I am with him I am completely happy, and without him 
I feel dull. 

' If you want to boast of news from the Caucasus you may 
announce that the second personage after Shamil, a certain 
Hadji-Murat, gave himself up the other day to the Russian 
Government. He was the first horseman and hero in all 
Tchetchnya, but committed a base act. You may further 
relate with grief that the other day the well-known brave 
and clever general, Sleptsoff, was killed. If you wish to know 
whether it hurt him I cannot tell you.' 

January 6, 1852, Tolstoy writes a remarkable letter from 
Tiflis to his aunt, which is full of tenderness and love for 
his guardian. 

' I have just received your letter of the 24th November, and 
I am answering you immediately, as is now my custom. Lately, 
I wrote you that your letter made me shed tears, and I attri- 
buted this weakness to my illness. I was wrong. For some 
time back all your letters have produced the same effect on me. 
I have always been a cry-baby. Formerly I was ashamed of 
this weakness, but the tears I shed in thinking of you and 
your love for us are so sweet that I let them flow without any 
scruples or false shame. Your letter is too full of sadness for 
it not to produce the same effect upon me. It is you who have 
always given me advice, and although, unfortunately, I have not 
always followed it, I would wish to act all my life only accord- 
ing to your views. For the present allow me to tell you what 
effect your letter had on me, and the thoughts that came to 
me upon reading it. If I speak too frankly, I know you will 
pardon it in view of the love I have for you. In saying that 
it is your turn to leave us, in order to join those who are no 
more, and whom you have so loved, in saying that you pray 
God to put a limit to your existence which seems to you so 



136 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

insupportable and isolated, pardon me, dear Aunt, but it seems 
to me, in saying this, you offend God and me and all of us who 
so love you. You ask God for death, i.e. the greatest mis- 
fortune which could happen to me. (This is not a phrase ; God 
is witness that the two greatest misfortunes which could happen 
to me would be your death or that of Nicolay the two persons 
I love more than myself.) What would remain for me were 
God to fulfil your prayer ? To give pleasure to whom would 
I desire to become better, to be virtuous, to have a good re- 
putation in the world ? When I make plans of happiness for 
myself, the idea that you will share and enjoy my happiness is 
always present. When I do anything good, I am satisfied with 
myself, because I know that you will be satisfied with me. 
When I act badly, what I most fear is to pain you. Your 
love is everything for me, and you ask God to separate us ! I 
cannot tell you the feeling I have towards you, speech does 
not suffice to express it, and I am afraid you will think I am 
exaggerating, and yet I am weeping with burning tears in 
writing to you. It is to this painful separation I am indebted 
for knowing what a friend I have in you and how much I love 
you. But am I the only one who has this feeling for you ? and 
you ask of God to die ! You say you are isolated. Although 
I am separated from you, yet, if you believe in my love, this 
idea might counterbalance your pain. As for myself, wher- 
ever I am, I shall not feel isolated, as long as I know I am loved 
by you as I am. 

' However, I know that is a bad feeling that dictates these 
words to me ; I am jealous of your grief.' 

Further on, in the same letter, he relates an incident as 
interesting for its practical, as for its psychological bearing. 

' To-day one of those things happened to me which would 
have made me believe in God, did I not already, for some time 
past, firmly believe in Him. 

' I was at Stari Yurt. All the officers who were there did 
nothing but play and at rather high stakes. As it is im- 
possible for us when living in camp not to see each other 
often, I have very often taken part in card-playing, and, not- 
withstanding the importunity I was subject to, I had stood 
firm for a month, but one day for fun I placed a small stake : 
I lost. I began again : I again lost. I was in bad luck ; the 
passion for play had awakened, and in two days I had lost 



LETTER TO HIS AUNT 137 

all the money I had and that which Nicolay had given me 
(about 250 roubles), and into the bargain 500 roubles for 
which I gave a promissory note payable in January '52. I 
must tell you that near the camp there is a native village 
inhabited by the Tchetchenians. A young lad from there, Sado, 
used to come to the camp and play, but, as he could not count 
or write, there were rascals who cheated him. For this reason 
I have never wished to play against Sado, and I have even 
told him that he should not play because he was being cheated, 
and I have myself offered to play for him. He was very 
grateful to me for this and made me a present of a purse, 
it being the custom of these people to give each other mutual 
presents. I gave him a worthless gun I had bought for eight 
roubles. I must tell you that, in order to become " Kunak," 
which means friend, it is customary to make each other presents 
and then to have a meal in the house of the " Kunak." After 
this, according to the ancient custom of this people, (which 
now exists almost only by tradition,) you become friends for 
life and for death, i.e. if I demand of him his money or his 
wife or his arms or all that is most precious to him, he must 
give it to me, and I also must refuse him nothing. Sado had 
engaged me to come to him and become his " Kunak." I went, 
and, after having regaled me in the native manner, he offered 
to let me choose anything in his house I wished his arms, his 
horse, all ... I wished to choose what was of the least value 
there, and I took a horse bridle mounted in silver, but he told 
me that I offended him and compelled me to take a sword 
which cost at least a hundred roubles. His father is rather a 
rich man, but one who keeps his money buried and does 
not give a penny to his son. The son, in order to have 
money, goes and steals horses and cows from the enemy ; some- 
times he has risked his life twenty times over in order to steal 
something not worth ten roubles, but it is not through greed 
he does it, but by fashion. The greatest thief is highly 
esteemed and called "Dzhighit," "plucky fellow. 11 At one 
moment Sado has a thousand roubles, at another not a penny. 
After a visit to him I made him a present of Nicolay's silver 
watch, and we became the best of friends in the world. Several 
times he has proved his devotion to me in exposing himself to 
dangers for me ; but this for him is nothing it has become a 
habit and a pleasure. 



138 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

* When I left Stari Yurt and Nicolay remained there, Sado 
used to go to him every day saying he did not know what to 
do without me and that he felt terribly dull. By letter I 
communicated to Nicolay that, my horse being ill, I begged 
him to find one at Stari Yurt. Sado, having learnt this, made 
haste to come to me and to give me his horse, notwithstanding 
all I did to decline it. 

'After my silly action of playing cards at Stari Yurt I 
had not touched cards, and I was continually moralising to 
Sado, who had a passion for gambling, and although he does 
not know the game has wonderfully good luck. Yesterday 
evening I occupied myself in considering my financial affairs 
and my debts. I was thinking what I could do to pay them. 
Having thought over these things, I saw that, if I do not 
spend too much, all my debts would not embarrass me and 
might be covered little by little in the course of two or three 
years ; but the 500 roubles I had to pay this month threw me 
into despair. It was impossible for me to pay them, and at 
that moment they embarrassed me much more than did pre- 
viously the 4000 of Ogoref. The stupidity, after having con- 
tracted those debts in Russia, of coming here and making 
new ones cast me into despair. That evening, during my 
prayers, I begged God to extricate me from this disagreeable 
position, and prayed with much fervour. " But how can I get 
out of this business?" thought I, on going to bed. "Nothing 
can happen which can give me any chance of meeting this debt." 
I already represented to myself all the unpleasantness I should 
have to go through in consequence how my creditor would 
present the note for payment, how the military authorities 
would demand an explanation why I do not pay, &c. " God 
help me,"" I said, and fell asleep. 

* The next day I received a letter from Nicolay, together with 
yours and several others. He wrote : 

' " The other day Sado came to see me, he won your notes 
from Knoring and brought them to me. He was so glad of 
this prize, so happy, and kept asking so repeatedly, ' What 
do you think ? Your brother will be glad I have done this, 1 
that I was inspired with a great affection for him. This man 
is indeed attached to you." 

* Is it not astonishing to see one's desire fulfilled the very 
next day, i.e. is there anything so astonishing as the divine 



LETTER TO HIS AUNT 139 

goodness for a being who deserves it so little as I. And is 
not this feature of attachment in Sado admirable ? He knows 
I have a brother, Serge, who loves horses, and as I have promised 
to take him to Russia when I return, he told me that, were 
it to cost him his life a hundred times over, he would steal 
the best horse to be found in the mountains and would bring 
it to him. 

* Please get a six-chambered revolver purchased at Tula and 
send it to me, also a little musical-box, if this does not cost too 
much : they are things which will give him much pleasure. 1 

This story is especially interesting because it shows what 
ground Tolstoy has travelled over in his spiritual develop- 
ment. It reaches from his naive mystical belief in God's inter- 
ference with his gambling and monetary affairs, to the perfect 
religious freedom confessed by him now. 

Finally, a few days after this letter was written and his 
official matters arranged, Tolstoy returned to Starogladovsk. 
On his journey from Mozdok station, probably while wait- 
ing for horses, he wrote a long letter to his aunt, full of the 
most profound religious thoughts, and as usual overflowing 
with tenderness to this beloved relative, and with visions and 
plans concerning a future of simple family happiness. 

* Here are the thoughts which occurred to me. I will try 
to express them to you, as I was thinking of you. I find 
myself greatly changed morally, and this has been the case so 
very often. However I believe such is every one's fate. The 
longer one lives the more one changes : you who have got 
experience tell me, is not this true ? I think that the defects 
and the good qualities the background of one's character 
will always remain the same, but the way of regarding life and 
happiness must change with age. A year ago I thought I 
should find happiness in pleasure, in movement ; now, on the 
contrary, rest both physical and moral is the state I desire. 
But I imagine that the state of rest without worry, and with 
the quiet enjoyments of love and friendship, is the acme of 
happiness for me ! But one feels the charm of rest only after 
fatigue, and of the enjoyment of love only after being without 
it. Here I am deprived for some time both of the one and of 
the other ; this is why I long for them so keenly. I must be 
deprived of them yet longer for how long God knows. I 
cannot say why, but I feel that I must. Religion and the 



140 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

experience I have of life, however small this be, have taught 
me that life is a trial. In my case it is more than a trial, it is 
also the expiation of my mistakes. 

' I have an inkling that the seemingly frivolous idea I had of 
going for a journey to the Caucasus was an idea inspired in me 
from above. It was the hand of God which guided me I do 
not cease to be thankful for it. I feel I have become better 
here (though that is not saying much, since I had been very 
bad), and I am firmly persuaded that all that can happen to 
me here will only be for my good, since it is God Himself who 
has willed thus. Perhaps the idea is too presumptuous. Never- 
theless I have this conviction. For this reason I bear the 
fatigues and the privations of which I speak (they are not 
physical privations such do not exist for a young man of 
twenty-three who is in good health) without suffering from 
them, even with a kind of pleasure in thinking of the happiness 
awaiting me. 

' This is how I represent it to myself. 

' After an indefinite number of years neither young nor old 
I am at Yasnaya, my affairs are in order, I have no anxieties, 
no worries. You are also living at Yasnaya. You have be- 
come a little older, but are still fresh and in good health. We 
lead the life we have led ; I work in the morning, but we see 
each other almost all the day. We dine. In the evening I 
read to you something which does not weary you, then we talk 
I relate to you my life in the Caucasus, you relate your 
memories of my father and my mother, you tell those "dreadful" 
stories which we used to listen to with frightened eyes and open 
mouth. We remind each other of those who have been dear 
to us and are with us no longer ; you weep, I shall do the same, 
but these tears shall be sweet ; we will talk about my brothers, 
who will come to see us from time to time ; of dear Marie, who 
will also pass some months of the year with her children at 
Yasnaya, which she so likes. We shall have no acquaintances 
no one will come to bore us and to gossip. It is a fine 
dream, but it is not yet all I allow myself to dream of. I am 
married. My wife is a sweet, good, loving person ; she has the 
same affection for you as I have; we have children who call you 
Grandmama; you live in the big house upstairs in the same 
room which Grandmother occupied in past times. All the 
house is arranged in the same way as it was in Papa's time, 



LETTER TO HIS AUNT 141 

and we recommence the same life, only changing our parts. 
You take the character of Grandmama, but you are yet better; 
I take the character of Papa, but I despair of ever deserving 
it ; my wife the place of Mama, the children ours ; Marie the 
role of the Aunts, their misfortunes excepted ; even Gasha 
takes the role of Praskovya Ilyinishna. But some one will be 
wanted to take the part which you have played in our family, 
never will there be found a soul so beautiful, so loving as 
yours. You have no successor. There will be three new 
personages who will appear from time to time on the scene, 
the brothers, especially the one who will often be with you, 
Nicolas, an old bachelor, bald, retired from service, always as 
good as he is noble. 

* I can imagine how he will, as in the old days, tell the 
children stories of his own invention, how the children will 
kiss his greasy hands (but which are worthy of it), how he will 
play with them, how my wife will take pains to prepare his 
dish for him, how he and I will talk over common memories of 
days long past, how you will sit in your customary place and 
listen to us with pleasure ; how you will call us old men, but, as 
of yore, Lyovochka and Nicolenka, and will scold me for eating 
with my fingers and him for his hands not being clean. 

' Were I to be made Emperor of Russia, or were some one 
to give me Peru in a word, were a fairy with a wand to 
come and ask me what I would like to have, with my hand 
on my heart I should answer, I only desire that this dream 
might become a reality. I know you do not like to fore- 
cast, but what harm is there in it ? and it gives so much 
pleasure. I am afraid I have been egotistical and have made 
your portion of happiness too small. I am afraid that mis- 
fortunes which have passed, but have left too tender chords in 
your heart, will hinder you from enjoying this future which 
would have made my happiness. Dear Aunt, tell me, would 
you be happy ? All I have said may happen, and hope is 
such a delicious thing.' 

'I am weeping again. Why do I weep when I think of 
you? They are tears of happiness; I am happy to know I 
love you. Were all calamities to afflict me, I should never 
call myself quite unhappy as long as you existed. Do you 
remember our parting in the chapel of Uverskaya when we 
left for Kazan ? Then, as if by inspiration, at the moment of 



142 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

leaving you, I understood all you were to me, and although yet 
a child, I was able to make you understand what I felt by my 
tears and a few incoherent words. I have never ceased to love 
you, but the feeling I experienced in that chapel and the one I 
now have for you are quite different; this one is much stronger, 
more elevated than I have had at any other time. I must 
confess to you something which makes me feel ashamed, but 
which I must tell you in order to free my conscience. Formerly, 
on reading your letters, in which you spoke to me of the feelings 
you had for us, I thought I saw some exaggeration, but only 
now, on reading them, do I understand you your unlimited 
love for us and your elevated soul. I am sure that any one 
else but you on reading this letter and the last one would have 
cast the same reproach on me ; but I am not afraid of your 
doing this, you know me too well, and you know that perhaps 
sensibility is my only virtue. It is to this quality that I owe 
the happiest moments of my life. At all events this is the 
last letter in which I shall allow myself to express such high- 
flown sentiments, high-flown in the eyes of the indifferent, but 
you will be able to appreciate them/ 

In January 1852 Tolstoy returned to Starogladovsk already 
a non-commissioned officer, and in the following February he 
took part as a gunner in a campaign. 

In March he was again in Starogladovsk. It is interesting 
to note the few thoughts written down by him in his diary of 
that time. 

He realised that three passions were hindering him on his 
way towards the moral ideal which he placed before himself. 
These passions were card-playing, sensuality or lust, and vanity. 
He thus defined and characterised these respective passions : 

* (1) Passion for gambling is a greedy passion which gradu- 
ally develops a craving for strong excitement. But it is 
possible to resist it. 

*(2) The indulgence of sensual passion is a physical need, 
a need of the body excited by the imagination: abstinence 
increases the desire and makes it very difficult to contend 
with. The best method is labour and occupation. 

'(3) Vanity: this passion is the one by which we do least 
injury to others and the most to ourselves. 1 

Further on are the following reflections : 

'For some time back I have been greatly tormented by 



MENTAL DEVELOPMENT 143 

regrets at the loss of the best years- of my life. It may be 
interesting to describe the progress of my moral develop- 
ment ever since I have begun to feel that I could have done 
something good ; but I will use no more words, even thought 
itself is insufficient. 

' There are no limits for a great thought, but writers have 
long ago reached the absolute limits of its expression. . . . 
There is something in me which compels me to believe that 
I am not born to be like every one. 1 

These last words represent his first vague consciousness of 
his vocation. It should be observed that they were written 
before he had finished Childhood, and therefore before he had 
been praised and congratulated on a successful literary per- 
formance. It was rather an internal independent consciousness 
of that mysterious power he had which has since placed him so 
high as one of the best representatives of the moral conscious- 
ness of humanity. 

In the month of May he got leave of absence and went 
to Pyatigorsk, to drink the waters and to be treated for rheu- 
matism. 

From there he writes a letter to his aunt which gives a 
picture of his spiritual growth, and points to the incessant 
activity of his inner life. 

'Since my journey and stay at Tiflis my way of life has 
not changed ; I endeavour to make as few acquaintances as 
possible, and to avoid intimacy with those whose acquaintance 
I have made. People have become accustomed to my manner, 
they no longer importune me, and I am sure they say he is 
a " strange " or a " proud " man. 

* It is not from pride that I behave thus, but it has come 
of itself. There is too great a difference between the edu- 
cation, the sentiments, and the point of view of those whom 
I meet here and my own for me to find any pleasure in their 
society. It is Nicolas who has the talent, notwithstanding the 
enormous difference there is between him and all these gentle- 
men, to amuse himself with them and be liked by all. I envy 
him this talent, but feel I cannot do the same. It is true 
that this kind of life is not adapted for one's amusement, and 
for a very long time I have not thought about pleasures. I 
think about being quiet and contented. Some time ago I 
began to appreciate historical reading (it was a point of 



contention between us, but I am at present quite of your 
opinion) ; my literary occupations also advance in their little 
way although I do not yet contemplate publishing anything. 
I have written three times over a work I had begun a very 
long time ago, and I intend re-writing it once more in order 
to be satisfied with it. Perhaps the task will be like that of 
Penelope, but that does not deter me, I do not write from 
ambition, but because I enjoy it; I find pleasure and profit 
in working, and I work. Although I am far from amusing 
myself, as I have told you, I am also very far from being dull, 
as I have got something to do ; besides this, I enjoy a pleasure 
sweeter and more elevated than any that society could have 
given me that of feeling at rest in my conscience ; of knowing 
myself, of understanding myself better than I did formerly, and 
of feeling good and generous sentiments stirring within me. 

'There was a time when I was vain of my intelligence, of 
my position in this world, and of my name, but now I know 
and feel that if there is anything good in me, and if I have 
to thank Providence for it, it is a kind heart, sensitive and 
capable of love, that it has pleased God to give me and to keep 
for me. 

' It is to this alone that I owe the brightest moments I have, 
and the fact that, notwithstanding the absence of pleasures 
and society, I am not only at my ease but often happy.' 

In a letter of June 24, 1852, to his brother Sergey, he 
gives characteristic details of his life in Pyatigorsk. 

' What shall I tell you about my life ? I have written 
three letters, and in each have described the same thing. 
I should like to tell to you the spirit of Pyatigorsk, but it is 
as difficult as it is to tell to a stranger in what Tula con- 
sists, which/ we unfortunately understand very well. Pyati- 
gorsk is also something of a Tula, but of a special kind 
the Caucasian ; for instance, here the chief feature is family 
houses and public promenades. Society consists of land- 
owners (this is the technical term for all visitors to the 
place), who look down upon the local civilisation, and of 
officers, who look upon the local pleasures as the height of 
bliss. Along with me there arrived from headquarters an 
officer of our battery. You should have seen his delight 
and excitement when we entered the town ! He had already 
told me a great deal about the distractions of watering-places, 



LIFE AT PYATIGORSK 145 

how every one walks up and down the boulevards to the 
sound of music, and then, as he declared, all go to the 
pastrycook's, and there make acquaintance even with family 
houses. There is the theatre, there are the clubs, every year 
marriages take place, duels, &c. . . . in one word, it is quite 
a Parisian life. The moment we got out of our travelling- 
cart, my officer put on blue trousers with fearfully tight 
riding-straps, boots with enormous spurs, epaulettes, and so 
got himself up and went for a walk along the boulevard to 
the sound of music, then to the pastrycook's, the theatre, 
and the club, but, so far as I know, instead of an acquaint- 
ance with family houses, and a bride who owned 1000 serfs, 
he in the course of a whole month only made acquaintance 
with three shabby officers who emptied his pockets to the 
last penny at cards, and with one family house, in which, 
however, two families live in one room, and tea is served 
with little scraps of sugar to put in one's mouth. This 
officer, moreover, spent in one month about 20 roubles on 
porter and sweets, and purchased a bronze mirror for the 
adornment of his toilet-table. Now he is walking in an old 
jacket without epaulettes, is drinking brimstone water as hard 
as he can, and appears to be taking a serious cure ; but 
he is astonished that, although he walked every day on 
the boulevard, frequented the pastrycook's, and did not 
spare money on the theatre, as well as on cabs and gloves, 
he could not get acquainted with the aristocracy (here in 
every little fort there is an aristocracy), whilst the aristocracy, 
as if to spite him, arranges rides and picnics, and he is not 
admitted anywhere. Almost all the officers who come here 
suffer a like fate, but they pretend they came only for " treat- 
ment," so they limp on crutches, wear slings and bandages, 
get drunk, and tell strange stories about the Cherkessi. Yet 
at headquarters they will again tell people how they were 
acquainted with family houses, and amused themselves tre- 
mendously ; and every season they go to the watering-places 
in crowds to amuse themselves.' 

As is evident from his letter to his aunt in Pyatigorsk, 
Tolstoy continued writing Childhood. At the same time 
his self-scrutiny never stopped. On June 29th he wrote in 
his diary a thought which might well serve as a short ex- 
pression of his present view of life. 

VOL, i, K 



146 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

' Conscience is our best and surest guide, but where are 
the marks distinguishing this voice from other voices ? . . . 
The voice of vanity speaks no less powerfully. For instance 
an unrevenged offence. 

* The man whose object is his own happiness is bad ; he 
whose aim is to get the good opinion of others is bad too, 
he is weak ; one whose object is the happiness of others is 
virtuous ; he whose object is God is great. 1 

This again is a thought which we find further developed 
in his later works : 

' Justice is the least measure of virtue to which every one 
is bound. Anything higher than justice shows an aspiration 
to perfection, anything lower is (no better than) vice. 1 

July 2nd Tolstoy finished Childhood, and in a few days 
sent the manuscript to the editor of The Contemporary in 
St. Petersburg. 

The original title of his first literary work was The Story 
of my Childhood. It was signed with the three letters L. N. T., 
and the editor for a considerable time did not know the name 
of the author. 

In Pyatigorsk Tolstoy saw his sister and her husband. 
Marie was undergoing treatment for rheumatism at the 
watering-place. According to her account, Tolstoy was 
then carried away by spiritualistic experiments such as the 
turning of the tables; he even carried this on in the boule- 
vard, taking chairs for it from the cafe. 

On August 5th Tolstoy left Pyatigorsk and returned to his 
outpost. 

On his journey he wrote down the following interesting 
thought, which is one of the leading principles of his present 
view of life : 

'The future occupies us more than the present. This is a 
good thing if we think of a future in another world. To live 
in the present, i.e. to act in the best way in the present that 
is wisdom.' 

On August 7th he arrived in Starogladovsk, and on returning 
to his beloved and familiar patriarchal surroundings of Cossack 
life, he wrote in his diary : 

* Simplicity that is the virtue I desire above all others to 
acquire.' 

On August 28th he at last received the long-expected letter 



LETTER FROM NEKRASSOF 147 

from the editor of The Contemporary. ' It made me silly with 
joy, 1 he noted in his diary. 

Here is the celebrated letter of Nekrassof, who was the 
sponsor of the newly born talent : 

' SIR, I have read your manuscript (Childhood). It is so 
far interesting, and I will print it. It seems to me, though 
I cannot say positively, not having seen the continuation, that 
the author is a man of talent. At any rate, the author's 
tendencies, the simplicity and lifelike character of the story, 
are incontestable merits. If the following parts contain (as 
one may expect they will) more vivacity and movement, it 
will turn out a very good novel. Please forward the con- 
tinuation. Your novel and your talent interest me. I would 
advise you not to conceal your identity under initials, but 
to appear with your full name at once, if only you are not 
a casual visitor in the domain of literature. I hope to hear 
from you. Accept my best respects, N. NEKRASSOF.' * 

After this, in a month's time followed a second letter. 

' ST. PETEESBUBG, September 5, 1852. 

' SIR, I wrote to you about your novel, and now I consider 
it my duty to add a few more words. I sent it to be printed 
in the ninth number of The Contemporary, and, after reading 
it carefully, this time not in manuscript but in proof form, I 
came to the conclusion that the novel is much better than it 
appeared to me at first. I can positively say that the author 
is a man of talent. It is most important for you yourself to 
be convinced of this now, when you are a beginner. The 
number of The Contemporary with your contribution in it 
will appear to-morrow in St. Petersburg, but you will only 
get it in three weeks' time, not before. I will send it on to 
your address. I have omitted some parts of your novel, but 
very little ; however, ... I have not added anything. I will 
write again before long in detail, but I am busy just now. I 
expect your answer, and beg you to forward me the continuation 
if ready for the press. N. NEKRASSOF. 

* P.S. Though I believe I have guessed the name of the 
author, still I beg you to inform me of it. In fact I must 
know it, because of the rules of our censorship.' 

1 Literary supplement to the magazine Niva, February 1898, p. 337. 



Of this letter Tolstoy wrote in his diary, ' September 30. 
Received a letter from Nekrassof, but no money.' 

He was in need of money at that time, and expected his 
honorarium for his first literary work. He probably wrote 
about it to Nekrassof, for he received a third letter from him, 
of which the contents were as follows : 

'ST. PETERSBURG, October 30, 1852. 

' DEAR SIR, I beg to be excused for my delay in answering 
your last letter I was very busy. As to the money matter, 
I said nothing about it in my previous letters for the following 
reason ; our best periodicals have long made it a custom not 
to pay anything for the first novel to a commencing author, 
who is first introduced to the public by the periodical itself. 
All who began their literary career in The Contemporary, such 
as Gentcharof, Drujinin, Ardeyef, and others, had to submit 
to this custom. When it came out, my own first work, as well 
as one of Panayefs, had to submit to the same custom. I 
propose to you to do the same thing, and you can make it a 
condition that for your subsequent works I will pay you the 
best honorarium, which is given only to our best-known (very 
few) novel-writers, that is to say, fifty roubles for sixteen pages 
of printed matter. I should add that I put off writing to you, 
because I could not make you such an offer before verifying 
my impression by the judgment of the reading public. This 
judgment turned out very favourable to you, and I am very 
glad to make no mistake in my estimate of your first work, so 
I offer you now with pleasure the above-mentioned conditions 
of payment. 

' Please let me know what you think about it. In any case 
I can guarantee that we will come to an agreement on this 
point. As your novel has had so much success, we should be 
very glad soon to get your second work. Please send what 
you have now ready for print. 

' I wanted to send you the ninth number of The Con- 
temporary, but unfortunately I forgot to order extra copies to 
be printed, and the whole of this year's issues are sold out. 
However, if you like, I can send you one or two reprints of 
your novel this can be done by making use of the defective 
copies. 



'CHILDHOOD' PUBLISHED 149 

* Once more allow me to ask you to send us a novel, or a 
tale of some kind. I remain, in expectation of your answer, 
yours truly, N. NEKRASSOF. 

' P.S. We are bound to know the names of all the authors 
whose works we publish, so please give me exact information 
concerning this point. If you wish it, no one but the publishers 
shall know it. 1 

Thus, judging by Nekrassof s letter, on the 6th of September 
1852 an event of great significance occurred in the history 
of Russian literature : Tolstoy's first work appeared in print 
that day. 

Tolstoy mentions this episode, with his usual modesty, in a 
letter to his aunt Tatiana, dated October 28, 1852. 

* On my return from the baths I passed a month rather 
disagreeably owing to the review which the general was going 
to hold. Marching and discharging different kinds of guns 
are not very pleasant, especially as the exercise interferes with 
any settled habits of my life. Fortunately it did not last long, 
and I have again resumed my way of life, consisting in sport, 
writing, reading, and conversations with Nicholas. I have 
taken to shooting, and as I have turned out to be a tolerably 
good shot, this occupation takes up two or three hours a day. 
In Russia they have no idea how much and what excellent 
game is to be found here. A hundred yards from where I live 
I find pheasants, and in half-an-hour I bag two, three, or four. 
Besides the pleasure, the exercise is good for my health, which, 
in spite of the waters, is not in first-rate condition. I am not 
ill, but I very often suffer from colds, at one time from a bad 
throat, at another from toothache, which I have still got, at 
times from rheumatism, so that at least for two days a week 
I keep my room. Do not think I am concealing anything 
from you : I am, as I have always been, of a strong constitution, 
but of weak health. I intend passing next summer again at the 
waters. If I am not cured by them, I am sure they have done 
me good " there is no evil without good." When I am 
indisposed, I can work with less fear of being distracted at 
another novel which I have begun. The one I sent to St. 
Petersburg is published in the September number of the 
SovremenniJc for 1852 under the title of Childhood. I have 



150 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

signed it L. N., and no one except Nicholas knows who is the 
author. I should not like it to be known. 1 

Marie, Tolstoy's sister, told me about the impression which 
this thing produced in the family circle. They lived on their 
estate, not far from that of Turgenef-Spasskoye, who used to 
visit them. On one occasion Turgenef arrived at their place 
with the latest number of The Contemporary, and read out a 
novel by an unknown author which he praised highly. Marie 
heard with surprise the story of events of her own family, 
wondering who could be aware of the intimate details of their 
life. How little idea they had that their own Lyovochka 
might be the author of this novel was shown by the fact 
of Nicolay Nikolayevich being suspected to have written it; 
the fact was he had manifested literary inclinations from his 
childhood, and was a splendid story-teller. Evidently his 
devoted aunt Tatiana knew how to keep the secret entrusted 
to her, and it probably leaked out only on Tolstoy's arrival 
from the Caucasus. 

In her reminiscences Mme. Golovachof-Panayef gives an 
interesting description of the impression made by the first 
novel of Tolstoy on both readers and authors. 

' On all sides praises were showered upon the new author by 
the reading public, and everybody wanted to know his name. 
As to the men of letters, they treated the newly-born talent 
more or less indifferently, with the exception of Panayef, who 
was so delighted with The History of my Childhood that he 
read it aloud every evening to some of his friends. Turgenef 
laughed at Panayef to his face, and said that his friends, when 
meeting him at the Nevsky Prospect, hid themselves for fear 
lest he should start reading passages from the new novel, which 
he had already managed to learn by heart. 

' The literary critics were slow to notice Tolstoy. At least 
in Zelinsky's volume of literary criticisms upon Tolstoy a 
carefully written book the first critical review is mentioned 
as having appeared in 1854. It was printed in the monthly 
serial, Memoirs of the Fatherland, in November of that year, 
that is to say more than two years after Childhood appeared 
in print. The article was written a propos of the publication 
of Boyhood, and both novels were reviewed in it. 

We quote here the short but striking critique of Tolstoy's 
first work : 



DOSTOYEVSKY'S INTEREST 151 

' Childhood an immense chain of various poetical and un- 
conscious conceptions of the surroundings, enabled the author 
to view country life in the same poetical light. He selected 
from this life all that strikes the mind and imagination of the 
child, and with the author's powerful talent this life is pre- 
sented just as the child sees it. Of the environment he in- 
troduces into his story as much as strikes the imagination of 
the child; that is why all the chapters of the novel, though 
apparently disconnected, have a perfect unity : they show the 
child's standpoint of the world. But the great talent of the 
author is further seen in what follows. It might be thought 
that in depicting the world from the impressions of a child 
one could hardly present life and mankind from other than 
a childish point of view. We are the more surprised to find 
after reading these tales, that they leave in the imagination 
the lifelike portraiture of father, mother, nurse, and tutor, in 
short the whole family, and all represented in the most poetical 
colours. 1 * 

In proportion to the growing circulation of The Contem- 
porary grew the interest of the reading public in the newly 
arising talent. 

When the copies of The Contemporary containing the stories 
Childhood and Boyhood reached Dostoyevsky in Siberia they 
deeply impressed him. In a letter to one of his friends in 
Semipalatinsk he insisted on being told who this mysterious 
L. N. T. was. 

But the mysterious L. N. T., as if of set purpose, declined 
to reveal his identity, and only watched from the outside the 
sensation he had made. 

In October, while living in the village Starogladovsk, he 
sketched the plan for a work, The Novel of a Russian Land- 
lord, of which the fundamental idea was as follows : 

' The hero seeks for the realisation of his ideal of happiness 
and justice in the conditions of country life. Not finding it, 
he is disillusioned and searches for it in family life. His 
friend suggests to him the idea that happiness does not con- 
sist in any ideal, but in one's continual work with the happiness 
of others for its object." 

Unfortunately the plan was not realised, but the same ideas 
are developed in many of his following works. 

1 Memoirs of the Fatherland, 1854, No. 11 (Journalism). 



152 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

In spite of his prominent position, a military career proved 
not to his taste. It was evidently a burden to him, and he 
only waited to get his commission in order to be allowed to 
leave. 

But this promotion was slow in coming, and it looked as 
if the delay was intentional. When he entered the service 
he expected to be promoted in about eighteen months, but 
after nearly a year's service he received, at the end of October, 
a notice informing him that he must first serve three more 
years. 

The reason for the delay turned out to be his negligence 
in sending in his papers. 

In the Memoirs of Countess S. A. Tolstoy we read the 
following : 

' The promotion of Tolstoy as well as his service had been 
full of great difficulties and failures. Before his departure for 
the Caucasus he lived in Yasnaya Polyana with his aunt 
Tatiana. He often met his brother Sergey, who at that time 
was very much interested in gipsies and their singing. The 
gipsies used to come to Yasnaya Polyana, and would sing and 
turn the heads of the two brothers. When Tolstoy realised 
that this might lead to some foolish action, he suddenly, 
without warning to any one, left for the Caucasus and took 
no papers with him. 1 

This carelessness, or rather hatred of all kinds of business 
documents, more than once caused a great deal of embarrass- 
ment to Tolstoy. 

In his impatience he sent a complaint to his aunt P. Yushkof, 
who wrote to certain high officials, and so managed to hasten 
his promotion to the rank of officer. 

On December 24 of the same year he finished his tale The 
Invasion, and two days later sent it to the editor of The 
Contemporary. 

In January 1853 Tolstoy's battery had to march against 
Shamyl. 

In the history of the 20th Artillery Brigade, in the descrip- 
tion of this campaign, we find the following passage : 

' At one of the guns of the chief detachment at No. 4 Battery 
there acted as gunner Count L. Tolstoy, afterwards author 
of the immortal works Felling of Wood, The Cossacks, War 
and Peace, &c.' 



The detachment was settled in the fortress Groznaya where, 
according to Tolstoy, card-playing and carousals constantly 
went on. 

'January 18, as stated in the history of the brigade, the 
detachment returned from Kurinskoye. During the last 
three days the seven guns of the column discharged about 
800 volleys, and of these about 600 were discharged by 
five guns of the Battery No. 4 of the Brigade No. 20, which 
were under the command of Lieutenant Makalinsky and 
Sub-Lieutenants Sulimovsky and Ladizhensky, under whose 
authority Count L. Tolstoy served as gunner of the 4th 
Division. On January 19 he was despatched with a howitzer 
to the fort and village of Gerzel.' l 

Tolstoy also took part in the engagement of February 18, 
when he was exposed to great danger, being only a hair's- 
breadth from death. As he was sighting a gun, the enemy's 
shell broke the gun-carriage and burst at his feet. Fortu- 
nately, it did him no harm. 

On April 1 he returned with his detachment to Staro- 
gladovsk. 

From the first steps of his literary activity Tolstoy had 
to come into contact with the senseless cruelty of that irre- 
sponsible power, which has now for more than a century 
been obstructing without intermission the free development 
of Russian thought. I mean what is called the censorship. 

In a letter to his brother Sergey of May 1853 Tolstoy 
writes : 

* I am writing in a hurry, so please excuse this letter being 
short and disorderly. Childhood has been spoilt by the cen- 
sorship, and The Expedition has quite perished under it. All 
that was good in them is deleted or mutilated. I have handed 
in my resignation, and one of these days, i.e. in about six weeks, 
I hope to go as a free man to Pyatigorsk and so on to Russia.' 

But getting leave of absence was no such easy matter, and 
in the summer of 1853 Tolstoy was again in a dangerous 
position, and with great difficulty was saved from being 
taken prisoner. 

We take the description of this incident from the Memoirs 
of Poltoratsky : 

* On June 13, 1853, I joined the 5th and 6th squads of 

1 Yanzhul, The History of the Artillery Brigade, No. 20. 



154 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Kurinsky and a company of the battalion of the line with 
two guns, and we set out on an expedition for which we were 
drafted off 1 to the fortress of Groznaya. After a halt at 
Yermolofs Knoll, the column started in marching order. 
When I came up to the middle of the column, which stretched 
out along the road, I suddenly noticed, not far from the 
advanced guard, to the left of the upper plain between Khan 
Kale and the Tower of Groznaya, a party of from twenty to 
twenty-five Tchetchenzi horsemen heedlessly galloping down 
the incline and across the line of our column. 

*I rushed onwards to the advanced guard and soon heard 
a volley of gun-shots, but before I had time to reach the 
5th Company I saw at a distance of about forty yards the 
gun unlimbered and the linstock over it. " Put it back, 
put it back, our men are there ! " I shouted at the top of 
my voice, and fortunately succeeded in stopping the discharge, 
which was aimed at the group of horsemen huddled together, 
among whom were evidently some of our men. Upon my 
order the 3rd platoon rushed forward, but they hardly made 
a few steps when the Tchetchenians turned to flight down the 
plain to Argun, and then two shells were discharged in their 
pursuit. At the same time, from the spot where the conflict 
took place, Baron Rosen, deadly pale and very shaky, rode 
up to the column. He was almost immediately followed by 
a horse without a saddle, which was recognised as belonging 
to a platoon officer. At that moment, from behind the short 
bushes growing on the road, there appeared the artillery 
ensign Scherbachof. This young, ruddy-complexioned man 
of nineteen summers, who only a few months before had left 
the artillery school and struck everybody by his appearance 
of good health and his extraordinary frame and strength, 
at this moment shocked us all. 

* He came up with deliberate but firm steps, without limping 
or groaning, and only when he calmly came quite near did we 
see how badly he had been hurt by the Tchetchenians. Blood 
was spouting like a fountain from bullet wounds in his chest 
and both his legs, from a grape-shot wound in the abdomen, 

1 Daring the war with the mountaineers, military expeditions were very 
dangerous. Such operations usually took place under the protection of a 
strong convoy of soldiers. Naturally, all kinds of errands for those in service 
were combined with these movements, which for that reason were called 
' occasions. ' 



WOUNDED 155 

and a slash on the neck from a sabre. With the column there 
was no doctor and no medical assistant, so the barbers of the 
company had to do what they could, and one of them skilfully 
and quickly dressed the wounds. Meanwhile Rosen, who had 
recovered a little from his fright, explained that five of them 
rode on in advance of the column and, at the moment of 
the attack by the mountaineers, Count Lyof Tolstoy, Pavel 
Poltoratsky, and the Tartar Sado probably escaped to Groznaya, 
while he and Scherbachof turned their horses back to the 
column which was moving up behind them. " Your honour," 
interrupted an artillery soldier lying on a high pile of hay, 
" there is another man lying on the road, and I believe he is 
moving. 11 I shouted to the third platoon, "Forward, double 
quick ! " and rushed down the road. At a distance of about 
one hundred yards from the guns of the advanced guard lay a 
dead raven-hued horse well known to us, and almost buried 
beneath him was the maimed body of Pavel. 1 He moaned 
aloud, and in a heartrending voice begged to be set free from 
the unbearable weight of the dead horse. I sprang from my 
horse and, throwing the bridle to a Cossack, with one haul, 
which cost me an extraordinary effort, I turned over the 
carcase of the horse and freed the sufferer, who was bleeding 
to death. He had been wounded by sidearms, having received 
three blows on the head and four on the shoulder. The latter 
were so deep that they literally divided the shoulder in two, 
exposing a wide extent of flesh. I sent by a Cossack an order 
for the whole column to move on to where we were, and here 
the dressing of the wounds was begun, and the stretchers were 
made ready. 

' All this happened in a few minutes, during which we 
managed, however, to render first help to the wounded, while 
the cavalry of the Groznaya fortress was induced to rush out. 
The commander of the garrison, seeing from the heights our 
column in perfect order and the Tchetchenians disappearing in 
the horizon, concluded that it was useless to pursue them, and 
ordered the soldiers to return to the fortress. But a few 
horsemen, having separated from the rest, galloped onward to 
reach our column, which was at a distance of about four versts 
from Groznaya. These were Pistolkorse and several of his 
Circassian friends, from the friendly Tchetchenians inhabiting 

1 Pavel Poltoratsky, the nephew of the writer. 



156 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

the villages about Groznaya. By common efforts we con- 
structed a kind of stretcher out of the soldiers 1 overcoats, 
placed both the wounded thereon, and started on our journey. 
Pistol korse informed us that Count Lyof Tolstoy and the 
Tartar Sado were hotly pursued by seven of the Tchetchenians, 
but, thanks to the speed of their horses, they reached the gates 
of the fortress unhurt, leaving the enemies a trophy in the 
shape of a saddle cushion. 

* Tolstoy and his friend Sado and three companions were 
impatient to arrive before the rest at Groznaya, and detached 
themselves from the column at Yermolofs Knoll. This 
manoeuvre is unfortunately only known too well in Caucasus ! 
Who of us, if mounted on a spirited horse, but obliged to 
move on step by step in the occasion with the infantry, would 
not gallop away in advance ? This is a temptation to which old 
and young often yielded, contrary to the strict prohibitions and 
discipline of the authorities. And our five brave fellows did 
the same. Leaving the column thirty yards behind them, they 
agreed that two of them, for the purpose of reconnoitring, 
should ride along the upper recess and the remaining three 
by the lower road. No sooner did Tolstoy and Sado mount 
the ridge than they descried a crowd of Tchetchenian riders, 
who from the Khan-Kalsky forest were flying straight upon 
them. Not having time to (descend without great risk, Tolstoy 
shouted from above informing his comrades of the enemy's 
appearance, and himself with Sado galloped away at full speed 
along the ridge of the recess to the fortress. Those below did 
not at first believe the news, and not being able to see the 
mountaineers had lost a few minutes ; when the Tchetchenians 
(seven of them started pursuing Tolstoy and Sado) appeared 
on the recess and rushed downwards, Baron Rosen turned his 
horse and galloped back to the column and reached it safely. 
Scherbachof followed him, but his horse, given by the Govern- 
ment, galloped badly, and the Tchetchenians overtook him, 
wounded him, and threw him off the saddle, after which he 
managed to reach the column on foot. Pavel's turned out the 
worse case. Having caught sight of the Tchetchenians he 
instinctively rushed forward in the direction of Groznaya, but 
at once realised that his young, well-fed, and petted horse 
could not in hot weather gallop the five versts dividing him 
from the fortress, so he abruptly turned backwards at the very 



REMINISCENCES OF BERS 157 

moment when the enemy had already come down the recess on 
the road, and, with his sabre unsheathed, as a last resource 
he intended to force his way back to the column. But one 
of the mountaineers aimed his carbine well, and, waiting for 
Pavel's approach, lodged a bullet in the forehead of his raven 
horse ; it fell down dead, burying its rider underneath. One 
Tchetchenian bent from his horse towards Pavel, and, snatch- 
ing out of his hands the silver-mounted sabre, he pulled off the 
sheath, but seeing the third platoon, which was hurrying to 
Pavel's assistance, he slashed him with his sabre on the head 
and ran away. His example was followed by the remaining six 
mountaineers one after another, who, riding by in full speed, 
each dealt heavy blows on the head and shoulders of Pavel, 
who lay motionless under the weight of his dead horse and 
bleeding to death, up to the very moment of our arrival.' 1 

In the reminiscences of Bers we learn one more detail of this 
affair characterising Tolstoy. 

* The peaceful Tchetchenian Sado, with whom Tolstoy rode 
out that day, was his great friend. They had only recently 
exchanged horses. Sado had bought a young horse, and after 
having given it a trial, gave it to his friend Tolstoy, and 
himself mounted the latter's ambler which, as is well known, 
cannot gallop. When they were overtaken by the Tchet- 
chenians, Tolstoy could have galloped away on the spirited 
horse of his friend, but he did not leave him. Sado, like all 
mountaineers, never parted from his gun, but unfortunately 
this time it was not loaded. Still he aimed it at the pursuers, 
and shouted threateningly at them. Judging by the actions of 
the pursuers, they intended to take both as prisoners, especially 
Sado, out of revenge ; for that reason they did not shoot. 
This saved them. They managed to approach Groznaya, 
where a vigilant sentinel noticed the pursuit afar and sounded 
the alarm. The appearance of the Cossacks on the road in- 
duced the Tchetchenians to stop the pursuit.' 

This incident served Tolstoy as a basis for his story, The 
Caucasian Prisoner. 

But neither the dangers of the military career, nor the fits 
of vice and gambling which burst like hurricanes into his 
peaceful life, arrested the general development of Tolstoy's 

1 ' Reminiscences of V. A. Poltoratsky.' Historical Review, June 1893, 
p. 672. 



158 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

character, and soon after the incident just described he writes 
down the following thoughts or maxims : 

' Be straightforward, and, even if brusque, be frank with all, 
but not childishly frank without due occasion. 

' Refrain from wine and women. 

* Delight is rare and imperfect, but repentance is complete. 

'Give thyself up completely to every work thou doest. 
Under a strong feeling pause always before action, but having 
once made thy mind up, even wrongly, act with resolution.' 

In the middle of July 1853, Tolstoy went to Pyatigorsk, 
and remained there till October, returning afterwards to 
Starogladovsk. Evidently the monotonous service began to 
be very wearisome, and he was looking forward to a change 
in his life. 

Meantime he wrote from Pyatigorsk to his brother as 
follows : 

' I think I have already written to you about my having 
handed in my resignation. God knows, however, whether it 
will be accepted, and when, in view of the war with Turkey. 
This disturbs me very much, as I have now become so accus- 
tomed to the happy thought of soon settling down in the 
country, that to return again to Starogladovsk and wait till 
eternity, as I do for everything connected with my service, 
is very unpleasant. 1 

The same frame of mind is perceptible in a letter from 
Starogladovsk, written in December 1853. 

'Please write to me quickly about my papers. This is 
necessary. When shall I arrive ? God only knows, for it will 
soon be a year since I have considered how I can resheath my 
sword, and still I cannot do it. However, as I must fight 
somewhere, I find it pleasanter to fight in Turkey than here, 
and have accordingly applied to Prince Sergey Dmitriyevich, 
who wrote me that he had already written to his brother, but 
did not know what the result might be. 

' At all events, before the New Year I expect a change in my 
way of life, which I confess has become inexpressibly wearisome 
to me. Silly officers, silly conversations, nothing else. If there 
were only one man with whom one might have a talk from one's 
soul ! Turgenef is right in speaking of the " irony of solitude." 
When by oneself one becomes perceptibly stupid. Though 





:*? 





i. SERGEY 2. DIMITRY 3. NICOLAY 4. LEO 

LEO TOLSTOY (AND HIS BROTHERS) BEFORE HE 
LEFT TO JOIN THE DANUBE ARMY, 1854 



THE ST. GEORGE'S CROSS 159 

Nicolenka took away with him God knows why the grey- 
hounds (we, Epishka and I, often call him a pig for this), still, 
during whole days from morning till night, I go out shooting 
alone with a dog. And this is my only pleasure ; indeed, not 
a pleasure, but a means of stupefaction. You get tired and 
hungry, and fall dead asleep, and the day is passed. If you 
have an opportunity, or should be in Moscow, buy for me 
Dickens 1 David Copperfield in English, and send me Saddler's 
English Dictionary, which is amongst my books. 1 

During this time Tolstoy was writing his Boyhood, and had 
finished a tale called The Memoirs of a Marker, which was 
sent to the editor of The Contemporary, expressing at the same 
time his dissatisfaction with his work, and the hurry in which 
it was done. 

About the same time one of his occupations was reading 
Schiller's biography. 

After having returned from a short journey to the village of 
Khassaf-Yurt, Tolstoy puts down in his diary : 

Tor all the prayers I have invented I substitute a single 
one, "Our Father." All the petitions I am able to address 
to God are expressed in a way much more elevated and much 
worthier of Him in the words : " Thy will be done on earth as 
it is in heaven. 11 ' 

In her Memoirs the Countess S. A. Tolstoy describes an- 
other interesting incident of his Caucasian life the attitude 
of Tolstoy to the St. George^ Cross. 

Readers are already aware that Tolstoy had distinguished 
himself several times in military exploits, and that he coveted 
the reward of the soldier's St. George's Cross. The commander 
of his battery, Colonel Alexeyef, was very fond of Tolstoy. 
After one of the engagements, several St. George's Crosses had 
been sent to the battery. These crosses were to be distributed 
next day, but on the eve of this day Tolstoy had to be on duty 
on the island where the guns were placed. 

With his usual inclination to be carried away by everything, 
he, instead of going, played chess till late at night, and was 
not on duty. The commander of the division, Olifer, not find- 
ing him on duty, was very angry, reprimanded him severely, 
and put him under arrest. 

The following day the crosses were distributed in the regi- 
ment, and the bands played. Tolstoy knew that he was to 



160 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

have had one, but, instead of enjoying the grand event, he was 
in prison and in despair at the time. 

Another opportunity presented itself for receiving the cross, 
but it again proved a failure, the reason of the failure being, 
however, more to his credit. 

Crosses were sent to the battery for good conduct in a 
certain engagement with mountaineers. This time Tolstoy 
knew beforehand that he was to get one. 

But just before the distribution Colonel Alex eyef spoke to 
him in the following terms : ' You know that St. George's 
Crosses are mostly given to old, deserving soldiers, to whom 
they give a right to life pensions in proportion to the salary 
they have been receiving during service. On the other hand, 
crosses are given to those non-commissioned officers who are in 
favour with their superiors. The more crosses that are received 
by the non-commissioned officers, the more are taken away from 
the old deserving soldiers. I will give you one if you like, 
but, if you are willing to decline it, it will be given to an old 
and very worthy soldier who deserves such a cross and who 
is looking forward to it as a means of livelihood.' Notwith- 
standing his passionate desire to own the cross, Tolstoy im- 
mediately gave up his claim, and after this he had no further 
opportunity of getting it. 

To conclude our description of Tolstoy's life in the Caucasus, 
we will quote a few lines from the reminiscences of an officer, 
M. A. Yanzhul, who served in the seventies in the village 
Starogladovsk, and came across traces of Tolstoy's sojourn 
there. 

' In 1871 I was made officer of the 20th Artillery Brigade, 
of the same brigade and village of Starogladovsk in which 
seventeen years before Count L. N. Tolstoy had lived and 
served in the army. The village of Starogladovsk with its 
handsome women of the striking local type, its valiant 
Grebensky Cossacks, and " the commander's house surrounded 
by high old poplars," described by Tolstoy in his well-known 
story, The Cossacks, had been familiar to me for more than 
twenty years. At my time the memory of Lyof Nicolayevich, 
as they called him there, was still fresh in the village. They 
used to point out to me the old Maryana, the heroine of the 
story, and several old Cossack-sportsmen, who knew Tolstoy 
personally and had with him shot pheasants and hunted wild 



YANZHUL'S REMINISCENCES 161 

boars. One of these Cossacks, as all know, went on horseback 
in the eighties from the village to Yasnaya Polyana to pay 
Tolstoy a visit. At the battery I met Captain Trolof (now 
deceased), who had known Tolstoy as a quarter-gunner, and 
related incidentally that even then the Count possessed the 
marvellous capacity of a story-teller who carried away the 
listeners by his interesting conversation.' l 

Further on Yanzhul gives a short sketch of the character of 
Tolstoy's superior, the commander of his battery. 

' Nikita Petrovich Alexeyef, the commander of the battery 
in which Count Tolstoy served, was loved and respected by all 
for his kindness. He enjoyed the reputation of a scholarly 
artillerist, a universalist, was distinguished for his extreme 
piety, and was particularly fond of going to church, where 
he spent hours kneeling and making bows. To this is to be 
added, that he had lost one ear, which a horse had bitten 
off. One of his peculiarities was this : he could not bear to 
see officers drinking, especially young ones. In accordance 
with the customs of the good old times, all officers dined with 
their commander. And here Tolstoy, by way of a joke, often 
pretended to want some drink. On these occasions Petrovich 
in a solemn fashion persuaded him not to take any, and used to 
offer some sweets instead of spirits.' 

The description of Tolstoy's life in the Caucasus would not 
be complete if we omitted his two comrades, the dogs Bulka 
and Milton. He tells their history in his Books for Reading, 
in a series of charming idyllic pictures of Caucasian life with 
which almost all Russian school-children are familiar. 

At last there arrived the long-expected order, promoting 
Tolstoy to the rank of an officer. 

January 13, 1854, he passed his officer's examination, which 
at that time was a meaningless formality, and began to prepare 
for his departure. 

January 19 he started for Russia. February 2 he arrived in 
Yasnaya Polyana. On the journey, which took in those days 
about a fortnight, he met with a very violent snowstorm 
that probably gave him the subject for his tale of that 
name. The short time of his stay in Russia he spent with 
his brothers, his aunt, and his friend Perfilyef. 

1 'Notices of L. N. Tolstoy,' by M. A. Yanzhul. Russian Olden Times, 
February 1890, p. 335. 

VOL. I. L 



162 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

An order to join the Danube army was already awaiting 
him, and he accordingly arrived in Bucharest, March 14, 1854. 

Having finished the description of the Caucasian period of 
Tolstoy's life, I think it will interest the reader if I give his 
own opinion of that period such as it is at the present time. 
Tolstoy looks back upon that time with pleasure, considering 
it one of the best periods of his life, notwithstanding all his 
lapses from his then vaguely realised ideal. He thinks that 
his subsequent military service, and especially his literary 
activity, were injurious to his character, and that it was only 
his return to the country and his work at school with the 
peasant children that helped him to feel as if he were born 
again and renewed his spirit within him. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE DANUBE AND SEBASTOPOL 

A short review of political events : Their reflection on Tolstoy's works. His 
arrival in the Danube army : A letter to Tatiana concerning the journey 
and his first impressions Another to her on Silistria An entry in the 
diary about himself A picture of his Roumanian recollections. Departure 
to the Crimean army : Arrival at Sebastopol New and powerful impres- 
sions. A letter to his brother Sergey : Patriotic mood Project for a popular 
military review. The fourth bastion : The verses Departure to Simferopol 
A letter to Tatiana A letter to his brother Sergey concerning life at 
the front. Prophecy about himself: Literary works The battle at the 
Black River A letter to Nekrassof about war Correspondents for The 
Contemporary Impression made on Alexander II. by the Sebastopol Tales 
Panayef's letter to Tolstoy concerning the attacks of the censor upon 
his story Nekrassof's letter to Tolstoy concerning the monstrosities of 
the censorship and the importance of his talent Opinion of a comrade 
in service. The military career before him and its obstacles : ' The Sebastopol 
Song' Remarks upon it by Venyukof Reminiscences of one of the 
writers of the song The second song The music Impression made 
by the Sebastopol Tales on the literary circle Opinions of Turgenef 
and Pissemsky Surrender of Sebastopol Writing of the report Trans- 
ferred to St. Petersburg Tolstoy's attitude to his military duties 
Reminiscences of N. A. Krylof. 

BEFORE entering upon the narrative of this period, I must 
say a few words concerning the chain of political events which 
brought about the changes in Tolstoy's life. 

The reign of Nicholas was approaching its end. Despotism 
was at its height, and the oppression of both the higher classes 
and the masses provoked a desire to revolt. As always happens, 
the Government, instinctively feeling the threatening storm, 
turned recklessly to adventures abroad. The potentially ac- 
cumulated energy of violence is thus discharged in the bloody 
slaughter of an obedient herd of soldiers, trained for the pur- 
pose of making them able and willing to come to the rescue 
of governments in the difficult moments of their criminal 
existence. The populace and the higher classes also half- 
consciously participate in such massacres, just as a man in 
misery seeks to stay his anguish by drinking. 

163 



164 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Thus, ruined and demoralised by the tyranny of Nicholas I., 
on November 4, 1853, Russia declared war with Turkey. At 
first the Russian army scored successes, entering the Turkish 
dominion and occupying Moldavia, and the Russian Black 
Sea Fleet, under the command of the celebrated Nakhimof, 
destroyed the Turkish fleet at Synope. 

At this juncture two European powers, France and England, 
interfered, and then began the well-known Crimean campaign, 
which was marked by the heroic defence of Sebastopol, a feat 
unprecedented in history. As is usual in such a crisis, along 
with the noisy movements of outward life, the inner life ran 
its course in the hearts of the best men, both of the people 
and of the higher classes, and took shape in new ideals in 
liberal social reforms of a certain kind, which, however, so far 
only faintly reflected the needs of the people. These two 
agencies, the direction of the energy of the people into heroic 
military exploits and the fact of the national spiritual life 
being stirred by the new ideals, gave a character to the creative 
activity of Tolstoy during this period. 

Almost from the first these two great phenomena came 
into opposition one with the other, and consequently Tolstoy's 
works took that form of high poetic tragedy, which is so 
marked in his tales of Sebastopol. 

Tolstoy, as has been stated above, was sent out to the 
army of the Danube, after having seen his relations. 

On reaching Bucharest, he writes a letter to his aunt 
Tatiana, in the shape of a diary, describing in a concise way 
the journey and first impressions on arriving. 

' From Kursk I have made about 2000 versts instead of the 
1000 I intended, and I went through Poltava, Balta, Kishineff, 
and not by Kief, which would have been out of the way. As 
far as the province of Cherson, I had excellent sleighing, but 
there I was obliged to give up sleighing, and to do a thousand 
versts in a perekladnaya, 1 over dreadful roads, as far as the 
frontier, and from the frontier to Bucharest it is impossible to 
describe the state of the roads ; in order to understand it, one 
must have tasted the pleasure of doing a thousand versts in a 
cart smaller and worse than those in which we transport 

1 Term indicating a travelling vehicle, without springs, which was ordi- 
narily used for travelling in Russia, and is somewhat similar to a small 
working-cart. Trans. 



WITH THE DANUBE ARMY 165 

manure. Not understanding a word in Moldavian, and finding 
no one who understood Russian, and moreover paying for eight 
horses instead of two, although my journey lasted only nine 
days, I spent more than 200 roubles, and arrived almost sick 
from fatigue. 

' 19th March. The prince was not here, but he arrived 
yesterday, and I have just seen him. He received me better 
than I expected, really as a relation. He embraced me, he has 
invited me to come to dine with him every day, and he wants 
to keep me attached to his person, but that is not yet decided. 

' Pardon me, dear aunt, for writing so little I have not yet 
collected my ideas this big and beautiful town, all these intro- 
ductions, the Italian opera, the French theatre, the two young 
Gorchakofs, who are very nice fellows ... so that 1 have 
not remained for two hours at home, and I have not thought 
of my occupations. 

' 22nd March. Yesterday I learnt that I am not to remain 
with the prince, but am going to Oltenitsa to rejoin my battery. 1 

Two months later he again writes, but now in another frame 
of mind. 

* Whilst you imagine me exposed to all the dangers of war, 
I have not yet smelt Turkish powder, and I am staying very 
quietly at Bucharest, walking about, enjoying music and taking 
ices. Indeed all this time, with the exception of two weeks 
I passed at Oltenitsa, where I was attached to a battery, and 
a week I passed journeying about Moldavia, Wallachia, and 
Bessarabia by order of the General Serzhputovsky, to whom 
I am now attached for special commissions, I have remained at 
Bucharest, and, to speak the truth, the kind of life which I 
lead here, being, as it is, somewhat dissipated, quite idle and 
very expensive, displeases me infinitely. Before this it was the 
service which kept me here, but now I have remained for three 
weeks owing to a fever I contracted during my journey, but 
from which, thank God, I am now sufficiently recovered to join 
in two or three days' time my general, who is in camp near 
Silistria. Speaking of my general, he appears to be a very 
good fellow, and, although we know each other very little, to 
be well disposed towards me. What is, moreover, pleasant is 
that his staff is composed for the most part of gentlemen. 
The two sons of the Prince Serge, whom I have found here, 
are nice fellows, especially the younger, who, although not 



166 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

particularly clever, has much nobility of character and a very 
kind heart. I like him very much. 1 

We next quote from a letter which refers to events on the 
Danube, though written from Sebastopol. As the reader will 
notice, Tolstoy first addresses his aunt Tatiana, and then his 
brother Nicholas. To our mind, this letter should form a page 
in a history of Russia. 

' I will speak to you of the past, of my memories of Silistria. 
I saw there so much that was interesting, poetic, and touching, 
that the time I passed there will never be effaced from my 
memory. Our camp was stationed on the other side of the 
Danube, i.e. on the right bank, on very elevated ground among 
beautiful gardens belonging to Mustafa Pasha, the governor 
of Silistria. The view from this place is not only magnificent 
but of the greatest interest for all of us ; not to mention the 
Danube, its isles and its shores, some occupied by us, others 
by the Turks, one saw the town, the fortress, and the little 
forts of Silistria as it were on the palm of one's hand. One 
heard the booming of cannon and guns unceasingly, day and 
night, and with a glass one could distinguish the Turkish 
soldiers. It is true, it is a curious kind of pleasure to see 
people killing each other, nevertheless every evening and every 
morning I got on to my cart and remained for whole hours 
observing, and I was not the only person who did. The 
spectacle was really fine, especially at night. During the 
night my soldiers generally undertook trench work, and the 
Turks threw themselves at them in order to hinder them, then 
you should have seen and heard the fusillade. The first night 
I passed in the camp this terrible noise awoke and frightened 
me ; I thought an assault had commenced, and I got my horse 
ready very quickly; bub those who had already passed some 
time in the camp told me that I had only to keep quiet, that 
this cannonade and fusillade were ordinary things, and that 
they jokingly called them " Allah."" Then I lay down again, 
but being unable to sleep I amused myself by counting, watch 
in hand, the number of discharges of cannon I heard, and I 
counted 110 explosions in the space of one minute. Yet all 
this at close quarters had not the frightful character it would 
appear to have. At night, when nothing could be seen, it 
was a question of who could burn most powder, and, with 
these thousands of cannon-shots, a score and a half of men 



LETTER TO HIS AUNT 167 

at most were killed on both sides. You will allow me, dear 
aunt, to address myself in this letter to Nicolay, for since I 
have begun to give details of war, I should like to continue 
and address myself to a man who understands and can give 
you explanations of what may be obscure to you. Well, this 
was an ordinary spectacle which we had every day, and in 
which, when I was sent with orders into the trenches, I took 
my share, but we also had extraordinary spectacles such as 
the one the day before the assault, when a mine of 240 Ibs. 
of powder was exploded under one of the enemy's forts. On 
the morning of this day the prince had been to the trenches 
with all his staff (as the general I am attached to belongs to 
it, I was there too) in order to give definite instructions in 
view of the assault of the next day. The plan, too long for 
me to be able to explain it here, was so well combined, and 
everything had been so well anticipated, that no one doubted 
as to its success. By-the-bye, I ought, besides, to tell you 
that I am beginning to feel admiration for the prince (you 
ought to hear what is said about him among the officers and 
the men ; not only have I never heard any evil spoken of him, 
but he is universally worshipped). I saw him under fire for 
the first time that morning. 

* You should see his figure, somewhat ridiculous with his 
high stature, his hands behind his back, his cap on the back 
of his head, his spectacles, and the way he has of speaking like 
a turkey cock. One could see he was so absorbed in the 
general progress of affairs that the shells and bullets did not 
exist for him ; he exposed himself to danger with such simpli- 
city that one would have thought he was unconscious of it, 
and involuntarily one was more afraid for him than for 
oneself; and then he gave his orders with such clearness and 
precision, and at the same time was always affable with every 
one. He is a great, i.e. a capable and honest man, as I under- 
stand the words, a man who has devoted all his life to the 
service of his country, and not through ambition, but as a 
duty. I will tell you a feature of his connected with the 
history of this assault I had begun to describe. In the after- 
noon of the same day that they exploded the mine, about 
600 pieces of artillery opened fire on the fort which they 
wished to take, and this was continued all night. It was one 
of those sights, and it caused one of those emotions which one 



168 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

never forgets. In the evening again the prince amidst all the 
commotion went to sleep in the trenches, in order himself to 
direct the assault which was to commence at three o'clock of 
the same night. We were all there, and, as is always the case 
on the eve of a battle, we all pretended to be no more con- 
cerned with the morrow than with any ordinary day, and I am 
certain that all, in the depth of their hearts, felt a little 
nervous, and not even a little but very much so, at the idea 
of this assault. As you are aware, Nicholas, the time which 
precedes an engagement is the most unpleasant it is only 
then that one has time for fear, and fear is one of the most 
disagreeable of feelings. Towards the morning, the nearer the 
moment approached, the more did this feeling diminish, and 
towards three o'clock, when we were all waiting to see fired 
the batch of rockets which were to be the signal for the 
attack, I was in such good spirits that, had they come to tell 
me the assault would not take place, it would have greatly 
grieved me. And lo and behold, exactly an hour before the 
time fixed for the assault, an aide-de-camp arrived from the 
Field-Marshal with the order to raise the siege of Silistria. I 
may say, without fear of being mistaken, that this news was 
received by all, men, officers, and soldiers, as a veritable mis- 
fortune, the more so that it was known through spies who 
often came to us from Silistria and with whom I myself often 
had opportunity to talk it was known that, if once this fort 
were captured, an event which no one doubted, Silistria 
could not hold out for more than two or three days. Do not 
you think that if this news was calculated to pain any one it 
must have been the prince, who throughout all this campaign 
had done everything for the best, yet saw in the very middle of 
the action the Field- Marshal arrive on top of him, and spoil 
the whole thing ? And then, having in this assault his only 
chance of repairing our reverses, he receives a counter-order 
from the Field-Marshal at the instant of commencing. Well, 
the prince had not a moment's ill-feeling, he who is so im- 
pressionable ; on the contrary, he was glad to be able to avoid 
the slaughter, for which he would have had to accept the 
responsibility, and during all the time of the retreat, which he 
himself directed, though he did not go back till the last soldier 
was through it, and which was accomplished with remarkable 
order and precision, he was in better spirits than he had ever 




LEO TOLSTOY, 1854 



EXTRACT FROM HIS DIARY 169 

been before. What greatly contributed to his good humour 
was the emigration of about 7000 families of Bulgarians whom 
we took with us, mindful of the ferocity of the Turks a 
ferocity in which, notwithstanding my incredulity, I was com- 
pelled to believe. The moment we had abandoned the various 
Bulgarian villages we had occupied, the Turks made away with 
every one who remained with the exception of women young 
enough for their harems. There was a village to which I had 
gone from the camp to get milk and fruit, in which the 
population had been exterminated in the way I have described. 
But no sooner did the prince communicate to the Bulgarians 
that those who desired could cross the Danube with the army 
and become Russian subjects, than all the country rose, and all 
with their women, children, horses, and cattle approached the 
bridge ; but as it was impossible to take them all, the prince 
was compelled to refuse those who came the last, and you 
should have seen their sorrow. He received all the deputations 
which came from these poor people, he talked with each of 
them, he endeavoured to explain to them the impossibility of 
the thing, he offered to let them cross without their waggons 
and their cattle, undertaking to maintain the people them- 
selves until they should reach Russia, and to pay out of his 
own pocket for private ships to transport them; in a word, 
doing all he possibly could to give help to these people. 

' Yes, dear aunt, I would greatly desire the realisation of your 
prophecy. The thing which I most crave is to be the aide-de- 
camp of a man like him, whom I love and whom I esteem from 
the depth of my heart. Good-bye, and, dear aunt, I kiss your 
hands.' 

In the midst of these strong and new sensations, Tolstoy 
does not forsake his regular habit, that of self-reproach ; this 
is reflected in the entries of his diary. 

* 7th July. I have no modesty. This is my great deficiency. 
What am I ? One of the four sons of a retired lieutenant- 
colonel, left from the age of seven without parents, and who, under 
the guardianship of women and strangers, received neither a 
worldly nor scientific education, and then became emancipated 
at seventeen ; a man without any great wealth, without any 
social position, and, above all, without principle, who has let 
his affairs get out of order to the last extremity, who has passed 
the best years of his life without aim or pleasure; who has 



170 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

finally banished himself to the Caucasus in order to run away 
from his debts, and, above all, from his habits, and who, having 
taken advantage of some connection or other which had existed 
between his father and a commander-in-chief, has got himself 
transferred, at the age of twenty-six, to the Army of the Danube 
as lieutenant, with hardly any means but his pay (having to 
use such means as he possesses for the payment of his remaining 
debts), without patrons, without knowledge of worldly matters, 
without knowledge of the service, without practical capacities, 
but with enormous vanity. Yes, such is my social position. 
Let us see what is my personality. 

* I am ugly, awkward, uncleanly, and, in the worldly sense, 
uneducated ; I am irritable, a bore to others, rude, intolerant, 
and as bashful as a child. I am almost completely ignorant. 
What I do know I have learnt anyhow, independently, by 
snatches, incoherently, in a disorderly way, and all comes to 
so little. I am self-indulgent, irresolute, inconstant, stupidly 
vain and hot-headed, as are all people with a weak character. I 
am not brave, I am not methodical in my life, and am so lazy 
that for me idleness has become almost a necessary habit. 

* I am intelligent, but my intelligence has not yet been 
thoroughly tried on anything. I have neither a practical nor 
a worldly nor a business intelligence. 

' I am honest, i.e. I love what is right, have got myself into 
the habit of loving it ; and when I deviate from it I am dis- 
satisfied with myself, and return to it with pleasure, but there 
are things I like more than what is right fame. I am so vain, 
and so little has this feeling been gratified that often I am afraid 
lest, between fame and virtue, I might, if the choice were given 
me, choose the former. 

' Yes, I am arrogant, because I am inwardly proud, though I 
am shy in society. 1 

At times a softened mood would come over him, and he 
would write with some poetic feeling, as the following entry in 
his diary shows : 

* After dinner I leaned upon the balcony, and looked at my 
favourite lamp which gleams so nicely through the foliage. 
Just then, after a few storm-clouds which have to-day passed 
and moistened the ground, there lingered one big cloud cover- 
ing the whole of the southern portion of the sky, and there was 
a peculiar pleasant lightness and humidity in the air. The 



GOES TO THE CRIMEA 171 

landlady's pretty daughter, like myself, was reclining in the 
window leaning on her elbows. A barrel-organ came along 
the street, and when the sounds of a good ancient waltz, after 
gradually retreating, completely vanished, the girl gave a sigh 
from the depths of her soul, rose quickly, and left the window. 
I felt so happy that I could not help smiling, and continued a 
long time gazing at my lamp the light of which was ever and 
anon hidden as the wind moved the branches of the tree 
gazing at the tree, at the fence, at the sky ; and everything 
assumed a beauty such as I had never seen it wear before. 1 

The unsuccessful campaign of the Army of the Danube, the 
dull life of the staff, all this was unsatisfactory to Tolstoy. He 
wanted more vigorous activity, greater excitement, and he 
begged to be sent to join the army in the Crimea. 

After the retreat from Silistria (July 20) he went to the 
Crimea. His journey lay through the towns Tekuchi, Berlad, 
Yassi, Kherson, and Odessa. He reached Sebastopol, Novem- 
ber 7, 1854. On his way he fell ill and was in a hospital, 
which explains the length of time he spent on the journey. 

On his arrival he was attached to the 3rd Light Battery of 
the 14th Artillery Brigade. 

Here he was overwhelmed with such a flood of new impres- 
sions that for some time he could not master them. At the 
end of a fortnight, on November 20, he writes to his brother 
Seryozha : 

' DEAR FRIEND SERYOZHA, I have behaved very ill to you all 
ever since my leave began, and how this happened I myself do 
not know ; at one time a distracted life, at another the dulness 
of my life and disposition, at another war, at another some 
one in the way, and so on ; but the chief reason has been a 
distracted life full of outside interferences. So much have I 
learnt, experienced, and felt during this year that one positively 
does not know what to begin to describe, or whether one will 
be able to describe it as one would like. To Aunty I wrote 
about Silistria, but to you and Nicolenka I will not write like 
that I would like to communicate with you so that you may 
understand me as I wish. Silistria is now an old song, now it 
is all Sebastopol, about which I daresay you have yourself read 
with a beating heart, such as I had four days ago. Well, how 
can I tell you all that I saw there, and where 1 went, and what 



172 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

I did, and what the French and English say the wounded 
prisoners and whether they suffer and suffer much, and what 
heroes our foes are, especially the English. We can talk over 
all this some day at Yasnaya or Pirigovo ; and about much of it 
you will learn from myself through the press. I will explain 
later what I mean, but now I will give you an idea of the 
position of our affairs at Sebastopol. The town is besieged 
from one side only, from the south side, on which, when the 
enemy approached, we had no fortifications. Now we have on 
this side more than 500 guns of enormous calibre, and several 
lines of earthworks positively impregnable. 

* I passed a week in the fortress, and up to the last day kept 
losing my way among these labyrinths of batteries as in a 
forest. For more than three weeks the enemy has in one 
place been only 180 yards off, and does not advance; at his 
slightest forward movement he is covered with a hail of 
shot. 

' The spirit of the troops is beyond description. There was 
not so much heroism in the time of ancient Greece. Kornilof, 
when making the round of the troops, instead of, "I greet 
you, boys ! " said, " One must die, boys ; will you die ? " and 
the troops shouted, " We will die, your Excellency ! Hurrah ! " 
And this was not mere show, but on the face of each one could 
see that it was not in jest but in earnest, and 22,000 men have 
already fulfilled this promise. 

*A wounded and almost dying soldier told me how they 
attacked the 24th French Battery and were not reinforced ; 
he wept aloud. A company of marines almost revolted because 
they wanted to relieve them from a battery on which they had 
remained thirty days under shell fire. Soldiers snatch the 
fuses out of the shells. Women carry water to the bastion 
for the soldiers, and many of them are killed and wounded. 
Priests with crosses go to the bastions and read prayers under 
fire. In one brigade, the 24th, there were 160 men wounded 
who would not leave the ranks. Wonderful time ! Now, how- 
ever, after the 24th, we have somewhat quieted down, and it 
has become splendid at Sebastopol. The enemy has almost 
ceased to fire, and all are convinced that he will not take the 
town, indeed, it would be impossible. There are three possible 
events : either he will make a general attack, or else he is 
diverting us with false works, or else fortifying himself in order 



IMPRESSIONS OF THE WAR 173 

to winter. The first is the least and the second the most 
probable. I did not succeed in being even once in action ; but 
I thank God that I have seen these men and live in this 
glorious time. The bombardment of the 5th will remain the 
most brilliant and glorious exploit, not only of Russian but of 
universal history. More than 1500 guns for two days played 
upon the town, and they not only did not force it to surrender, 
but they did not even silence one gun in two hundred of our 
batteries. It seems to me that if this campaign is not favour- 
ably looked upon in Russia, posterity will place it higher than 
all others. Do not forget that with equal, even inferior forces, 
with bayonets alone, and with the worst troops of the Russian 
army (such is the 6th Corps), we are fighting with a more 
numerous foe, possessing a fleet and armed with 3000 guns, 
excellently made rifles, and with his best troops. I do not 
mention the superiority of the enemy ""s generals. 

'Our army alone can stand and conquer under these con- 
ditions, and conquer shall yet, this I am convinced of. You 
should see the French and English prisoners (especially the 
latter) : each one is better than the last, I mean morally and 
physically ; they are a splendid people. The Cossacks say that 
even they feel pity in sabreing them, and by their side you 
should see any one of our riflemen : small, lousy, and shrivelled 
up, in a way. 

'Now I will tell you how it is that you will learn from 
me through the press about the exploits of these lousy and 
shrivelled up heroes. In our artillery staff office, consisting, 
as I think I wrote to you, of very good and honourable men, 
the idea has been started of publishing a military periodical 
for the purpose of maintaining a good spirit in the troops, a 
cheap review (at three roubles), and in popular language, so 
that the soldiers could read it. We have written a prospectus 
of the paper and presented it to the Prince. The idea pleased 
him very much, and he submitted the prospectus and a specimen 
number, which we had composed, to the Emperor for sanction. 
The money for the publication has been advanced by myself 
and Stolypin. They have made me editor, together with a 
certain Mr. Constantinovich, who has published The Caucasus, 
and is an experienced man in this line. In the review will be 
published descriptions of battles, not so dry and untruthful as 
in other papers, exploits of bravery, biographies and obituaries 



174 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

of good men, and particularly of the rank and file ; military 
stories, soldiers' songs, popular articles about engineering and 
artillery, arts, &c. This thing pleases me very much ; first, I 
like this occupation, and secondly, I hope that the periodical 
will be useful and not at all bad. All this remains presumptive 
until we get the Emperor's answer, and I confess I am anxious 
about it. In the trial copy we sent to St. Petersburg we care- 
lessly inserted two articles, one by myself and the other by 
Rostovtsef, which are not quite orthodox. For this business I 
shall require 1500 roubles, which are lying in the office, and 
which I have asked Valeryan to send me. As I have already 
gossiped this to you, tell it to him too. Thank God I am 
well, and I have been living happily and pleasantly from the 
very time I returned from abroad. In general, my life in the 
army is divided into two periods : abroad a bad one, where 
I was ill and poor and lonely, and at home a pleasant one. 
Now I am well and have got good comrades, but I am still 
poor, for money is soon gone. 

* I do not write, but I instinctively feel how Aunty is bantering 
me. One thing troubles me : this is the fourth year of my life 
without female society ; I may become quite uncouth and unfit 
for family life, which I so enjoy. 

* Well, good-bye. God knows when we shall see each other, 
unless you and Nicolenka take it into your heads some day, 
when out hunting, to look in from Tambof at our head- 
quarters.' 

I have given the whole of this remarkable letter, because it 
shows how young in his spirit Tolstoy was at that time, how 
liable to be carried away by his feelings, and how this stood in 
the way of any clear understanding of what was going on round 
him. But glimpses of vivid consciousness and prophetic inspira- 
tion appear with all the greater force in the background. 

However, these powerful outward impressions did not occupy 
the whole of Tolstoy's soul, and, while alone, writing his diary, 
possibly in the tents of the 4<th battalion, he was still the same 
as he had always been and as he is now, ever seeking for and 
striving after the ideal. His frame of mind at that time found 
vent in the following poetical form : 

' When, oh when shall I at last cease to pass my time with- 
out aim or enthusiasm, and to feel a deep wound in my heart 
without knowing how to heal it? Who made this wound? 



DEPARTS FOR SIMFEROPOL 175 

God alone knows, but from birth I have been bitterly tor- 
mented by a sense of the insignificance which threatened my 
future and by painful sadness and doubt.' 1 

He moved to Simferopol on November 23. 

January 6, 1855, he writes a pacifying letter to his aunt 
Tatiana : 

' I have not taken part in the two bloody battles which have 
taken place in the Crimea, but I went to Sevastopol immediately 
after the battle of the 24th, and I passed a month there. They 
no longer fight they devastate the country because of the 
winter, which is exceptionally severe, especially at the present 
moment; but the siege goes on. What will be the issue of 
this campaign ? God only knows ; but, in any case, the 
Crimean campaign must come to an end in three or four 
months one way or another. But, alas ! the end of the 
Crimean campaign does not mean the end of the war, which, 
on the contrary, it appears will last very long. I had men- 
tioned in my letters to Serge, and, I think, to Valeryan, an 
occupation which I had in view, and which greatly attracted 
me ; now that there is an end of the notion, I may explain it. 
I had the idea of founding a military journal. This plan, 
at which I had worked with the co-operation of many very 
distinguished persons, was approved by the Prince and sent to 
the Emperor for confirmation ; but, as in our country there are 
intrigues against everything, people were found who were afraid 
of the competition of this journal ; and perhaps, too, the idea 
did not fall in with the views of the government. The Emperor 
has refused. 

*I confess this disappointment gave me infinite pain, and 
has greatly altered my plans. If God will that the Crimean 
campaign should terminate in our favour, and I do not receive 
an appointment with which I can be satisfied, and if there be no 
war in Russia, I shall leave the army and go to St. Petersburg 
to the Military Academy. This plan occurred to me, first, 
because I should not like to abandon literature, with which it 
is impossible for me to occupy myself in this camp life ; and, 
secondly, because it seems to me I am beginning to become 
ambitious, or rather, not ambitious, but I should like to do 
some good, and, in order to do that, it is necessary to be some- 
thing more than a sub-lieutenant; thirdly, because I should 
1 We translate the verses in prose. Trans. 



176 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

like to see you all and all my friends. Nicolas writes that 
Turgenef has made the acquaintance of Marie. I am very glad 
of it ; if you see him, tell Varinka that I beg him to embrace 
him on my behalf, and to tell him that, although I know him 
only by correspondence, I should have had a lot of things to 
say to him.' 

The life which followed is very well pictured in his letter to 
his brother, written in May 1855. In it he gives a chrono- 
logical summary of the events of his military life during the 
preceding winter of 1854-55. 

' Although you probably know through our folks where I am 
and what I have been doing, I will repeat to you my adventures 
since Kishinef, the more so that my story may be interesting to 
you, and you will learn from it in what phase I now am for it 
seems that my fate is always in some phase or other. From 
Kishinef I petitioned to be transferred to the Crimea, partly 
for the purpose of seeing this war, and partly in order to tear 
myself away from the staff of Serzhputovski, which I did not 
like, but chiefly from patriotism, which at that time I confess 
took hold of me strongly. I did not request to be sent to any 
particular point, but left the authorities to dispose of my fate. 
In the Crimea I was attached to a battery in Sebastopol itself, 
where I passed a month very pleasantly in the circle of simple 
and kind comrades, who are especially engaging during real 
war and danger. In December our battery was removed to 
Simferopol, and there I lived six weeks in the comfortable home 
of a landowner, going to Simferopol to dance and play the 
piano with young ladies, and, with the government officials, to 
shoot deer on the Chaterdag. In January there was another 
redistribution of officers, and I was transferred to a battery 
encamped at ten versts from Sebastopol. There fai fait la 
connaissance de la mere de Kousma, 1 the nasty circle of officers 
in the battery, the commander, though a kind creature, yet 
harsh and coarse : no comfort, cold earth huts ; not one book, 
not one man with whom one could speak. Here I received 
1500 roubles for the periodical, the sanction of which had 
already been refused ; and here I lost 2500 roubles, thus proving 
to the whole world that I am still a frivolous fellow, although 
the above circumstances may be accepted comme drconstances 

1 A jocular translation into French of a Russian slang byword, ' Kousma's 
Mother,' popularly used to indicate a difficult plight. Trans. 



MILITARY LIFE 177 

attenuantes. 1 But still it was very very disgraceful. In March 
it became warmer, and a good fellow and most excellent man 
arrived and joined the battery, one Brenefski ; so I began to 
recover myself, and on the first of April my battery, during 
the actual bombardment, went to Sebastopol, where I quite 
recovered myself. There, until May 15, although in serious 
danger, having been on duty four successive days in a battery 
of the 4th bastion, yet we had the spring and excellent 
weather, a mass of impressions and of people, all the con- 
veniences of life, and the company of well-bred men like our- 
selves, so that these six weeks will remain one of my pleasantest 
recollections. On May 15, Gorchakof, or the commander of 
the artillery, was pleased to entrust me with the formation and 
command of a mountain detachment at Belbek, twenty versts 
from Sebastopol, with which I am up to now very well satisfied 
in many respects. 

'This is a general description. In the next letter I will 
write about the present more in detail.' 

To this short description we may add that its jocular tone 
does not harmonise with the serious thoughts and feelings 
which beset him at the time. 

In his diary of March 5, 1855, he puts down the following 
prophecy about himself. 

'A conversation about divinity and faith suggested to me 
a great, a stupendous idea, to the realisation of which I feel 
myself capable of devoting my life. This idea is the founda- 
tion of a new religion corresponding to the present state of 
mankind the religion of Jesus, but purified from dogma and 
mysticism, a practical religion, not promising future bliss, but 
giving bliss upon earth. I feel that this idea can be realised 
only by generations consciously looking towards it as a goal. 
One generation will hand on the idea to the next and, some 
day, enthusiasm or reason will bring it into being. To act 
with a deliberate view to the religious union of mankind, this 
is the leading principle of the idea which I hope will command 
my enthusiasm.' 

Of course when a man first writes the above words, and 
after that is engaged for fifty years, with the resolution and 
ability shown by Tolstoy, in elaborating the means of realising 
his idea, we may be sure his place was not in the artillery. 

1 French for extenuating circumstances. Trans. 
VOL. I. M 



178 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

He had a vague consciousness of this, and from time to time 
the idea struck him that he was born not for a military career, 
but for a literary life. 

Moreover, he never wholly forsook his literary activity. 

On his way from Roumania to Sebastopol he went on with 
Felling Wood; in Sebastopol he began to write Youth and 
Tales from Sebastopol. 

From the llth to the 14th of April he remained in bastion 
No. 4. The sense of danger was a spiritual awakening to him, 
and he addresses God with the following prayer : 

' Lord, I thank Thee for Thy continual protection. How 
surely Thou leadest me to that which is right ! And what an 
insignificant creature should I be wert Thou to abandon me ! 
Leave me not, Lord ; direct me, and not for the satisfaction 
of my poor desires, but for the attainment of the eternal and 
mighty object of existence, unknown to me and yet recognised 
by me.' 

On August 4, 1 855, Tolstoy took a part, although indirectly, 
in the battle of the Black River. He hastens to reassure his 
relatives, and in a letter to his brother of August 7, 1855, says, 
by the way : 

' I am writing you a few lines to reassure you about myself 
with reference to the battle on the 4th, in which I took part 
and was not hurt; but I did not do anything, because my 
mountain artillery had no occasion to fire.' 

At the same time, as is seen from Tolstoy's correspondence 
with Nekrassof, he kept his eye on Russian literature, and 
actively supported the editors of The Contemporary; in fact 
he got together at Sebastopol a group of contributors. This 
is what he wrote to Nekrassof: 

' RESPECTED NICOLAY ALEXEYEVICH, You must have already 
received my article, Sebastopol in December, and the promise 
of Stolypin's article. Here it is, notwithstanding the wild 
orthography of this manuscript, which you will yourself get 
corrected, if it is to be published without erasures by the 
censor, which the author has tried his best to avoid. You 
will, I hope, agree that such military articles are unfortunately 
very scarce with us or else do not get published. Perhaps by 
this same courier an article by Saken may be sent, of which 
I say nothing, and which I hope you will not print. The 



'SEBASTOPOL IN DECEMBER' 179 

corrections in Stolypin's article in black ink are made by 
Horulef with his left hand, his right hand being wounded. 
Stolypin requests that they should be put in footnotes. 
Please insert, if possible, mine as well as Stolypin's in the 
June issue. Now we are all together, and the literary society 
of the fallen Journal is beginning to be organised, and, as I 
told you, you will receive from me every month two, three, or 
four articles of a contemporary military character. The best 
contributors, Bakunin and Rostovtsef, have not yet had time 
to finish their articles. Be so kind as to direct your answer 
to me, and in general write by this courier, an adjutant of 
Gorchakof s, and by the others who are continually going to 
and fro between you and us.' 1 
SEBASTOPOL, April 30, 1855. 

On June 15, in Bakhtchisarai, he received a letter from 
Panayef and a copy of The Contemporary, with his printed 
tale, Sebastopol in December. From this letter he learned that 
the tale had been read by the Emperor Alexander II. 

Evidently it had made a deep impression on the Emperor, 
for he ordered it to be translated into French. In the same 
month of June Tolstoy finished the tale Felling Wood, and 
sent it to The Contemporary. 

In July he completed and sent to the editors his new tale, 
Sebastopol in May. 

In his letter from St. Petersburg, dated August 28, 1858, 
Panayef relates the following incident in connection with this 
story : 

* In my letter, delivered to you by Stolypin, I wrote you that 
your article had been passed by the censorship with a few slight 
changes, and begged you not to be angry with me, because it 
was necessary to add a few words at the end so as to mollify 
an expression. Nearly 3000 copies of the article, Night in 
Sebastopol? were printed, when the censor prevented publica- 
tion of the number by ordering a copy to be brought him from 
the printing office; hence the August issue appeared on the 
18th January, and during my absence I went to Moscow for 
a few days it was presented to the president of the Committee 
of Censors, Pushkin, whom you should know in connection 

1 The Literary Reminiscences of J. Panayef. 
' Sebastopol in May was thus called then. 



180 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

with Kazan. If you know Pushkin, you may imagine what 
followed. Pushkin became wild ; he was very angry with the 
censor as well as with me for presenting such articles to the 
censorship, and he made corrections in it himself. In the 
meantime I returned to St. Petersburg, and was horror-struck 
when I saw the changes made. I did not want to print the 
article at all, but Pushkin, in an interview with me, said that I 
must publish it in its transformed shape. Nothing could be 
done, and your mutilated article will appear in the September 
number, omitting the letters L. N. T., which I should hate to 
see at the bottom of it after that. But the article was so good 
that, even after it was completely destroyed by the censor, I 
gave it to Milutin, Krasnokutsky, and others to read. Every- 
body likes it very much, and Milutin wrote me that I should 
commit a sin by depriving readers of this article and by not 
publishing it even in its present form. 

' At any rate, do not blame me because your article has been 
published in such a shape. I was forced to do it. If it is 
God's will that we should meet some day, for which I long, I 
will clear up the matter to you. Now I will say a few words 
in regard to the impression generally made on us, and on 
everybody else to whom I have read it, by your story, Night, 
in its original shape . . . Censorship is out of the question 
here. 

1 Everybody thinks this story more forcible than the first 
one, owing to the minute and profound analysis of the emo- 
tions and feelings of men who are constantly in the face of 
death, owing to the accuracy with which army officers are 
depicted, their intercourse with members of the nobility, and 
their mutual relations. In short, everything is perfect de- 
scribed in a masterly way ; but the whole thing is so full of 
bitterness, everything is so keen and biting, merciless, and 
cheerless that at this moment, when the scene of this story is 
held almost sacred, it hurts those that are far from it. The very 
events of the story might make a disagreeable impression. 

* Felling Wood, with its dedication to Turgenef, will also 
appear in September (Turgenef begged me to thank you very 
much for your remembering him and being so attentive) . . . 
Even in this story, which passed three censors the Caucasian 
censor (Secretary of State, Butkof), the military censor (Major- 
General Stefen), and one civil censor (consisting of Pushkin 



LETTER FROM NEKRASSOF 181 

and us) the types of officers have been tampered with, and 
unfortunately some parts have been struck out.' 
In September Nekrassof wrote Tolstoy : 

' DEAR SIR LYOF NICOLAYEVICH, I arrived in Petersburg in 
the middle of August to find The Contemporary in a very sad 
plight. 

' The shocking state to which your article l was brought 
turned my last drop of blood. At this moment I cannot think 
of it without pain and indignation. Your work, to be sure, 
will not be lost. . . . It will always bear witness to the power 
capable of such deep and sober truth in circumstances in which 
it is not everybody who could have kept it unimpaired. I 
need not say how highly I value this article and the trend of 
your talent in general as well as its power and freshness as a 
whole. It is just what the Russian public needs ; the truth 
the truth, of which so little remains in Russian literature since 
the death of Gogol. You are quite right in caring most of all 
for this side of your capacity. Truth in the form presented by 
you in our literature is something quite new to us. I do not 
know of any author at the present moment who could make 
one love and sympathise with him so deeply as the one to 
whom I now write. But I have one dread lest the course of 
time, the abominations of real life, and the deaf and dumb 
environment should affect you in the same way as they have 
affected most of us, and destroy that energy which is indispens- 
able to an author, at least to those authors who are necessary 
for Russia at present. You are young; certain changes are 
taking place ; they may let us hope end in good, and then a 
wide arena may be opened before you. Your beginning is such 
that the least sanguine persons are carried far away in their 
hopes. But I have turned from the purpose of my letter. I 
shall not console you by telling you, true as it is, that the 
printed fragments of your article are very much appreciated by 
many ; for to those who know the article in its real shape they 
are nothing but a string of phrases without sense or inner 
meaning. But it cannot be helped. I must say one thing, the 
article would not have been printed in this shape were it not 
necessary. But it is not signed by your name. Felling Wood 
passed the censorship fairly well, though a few precious criti- 

1 Evidently he means Tolstoy's tale Sebastopd in May, 1855. 



182 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

cisms are lost. My opinion of the work is this : in form 
it may resemble Turgenef, but the resemblance ends there ; 
the rest belongs to you and could be written by no one but 
you. In this sketch there are many wonderfully striking 
observations and it is entirely new, interesting, and judicious. 
Don't disdain this type of sketches : in our literature hitherto 
nothing but trivialities have appeared about the soldier. You 
are only opening the subject, and, in whatever way you choose 
to tell us what you know of it, all will be exceedingly interest- 
ing and useful. Panayef handed me your letter in which you 
promise soon to send us Youth. Please do. Setting aside 
the review, I am personally interested in the continuation of 
your first production. We will keep space for Youth in the 
tenth or eleventh number, according to the time it arrives. 

* The money will be forwarded to you one of these days. I 
have settled for the winter in Petersburg, and shall be glad to 
hear from you occasionally. Accept my sincere respect, 

'N. NEKRASSOF.' 1 

But, needless to say, literary work was not Tolstoy's chief 
occupation at that time. He was leading the conventional 
life of an officer, and was ' a good comrade,' as is certified 
by his contemporaries and fellow-officers. 

Nazaryef quotes in his reminiscences the narrative of a former 
comrade of Tolstoy, who evidently recalled with delight the 
time he had spent together with Count Tolstoy in the battery. 
He even recognised himself as one of the characters in the 
Sebastopol Tales. 'I may say,' related the old man, with a 
smile of pleasure on his face, * Tolstoy, with his stories and 
his impromptu verses, encouraged us all in the direst moments 
of our military life. In the full meaning of the word he was 
the soul of our battery. When we were in his company, we 
did not notice how time flew, and there was no end to the 
general good spirits. When the Count was not there he had 
left for Simferopol all were downcast. No news of him for 
a day, two, three. ... At last he came back . . . looking 
exactly like the prodigal son gloomy, worn out, dissatisfied 
with himself. He would take me aside out of the way, and 
begin to do penance. He would tell everything about his 

1 Four letters by N. A. Nekrassof to Count L. N. Tolstoy. Niva Monthly 
Literary Supplement, No. 2, 1898. 



THE SEBASTOPOL SONG' 183 

carousing, playing cards, as to where he spent the days and 
nights, and, would you believe it ? his repentance and suf- 
ferings were as deep as if he had been a great culprit. It 
was pitiful to see him, so great was his distress. . . . This 
is the kind of man he was. He was, in a word, peculiar, 
and, to tell you the truth, not quite comprehensible to me ; 
but, on the other hand, he was a rare comrade, an honest 
soul, and to forget him is quite impossible.' 

Tolstoy's conduct as a brave officer, and his familiarity 
with higher circles, could readily have secured for him an 
advantageous military career. The publication of his Sebas- 
topol sketches, which had attracted the attention of Nicholas, 
and of the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna who, it was said, 
shed tears while reading the first tale would have contributed 
to the same end. But his very gifts put an end to his military 
advancement. The obstacle to a brilliant military career 
proved to be 'The Sebastopol Song. 1 

This is the history of this song. 

The version we quote is from the Olden Times, where it 
appeared in full. The well-known author and scholar, M. T. 
Venyukof, wrote with the text of the song the following 
note : 

i In the years from 1854 to 1856 I was studying military 
science in the Academy of the general staff, and there I 
received from the Crimea the theatre of war through 
one of my comrades of the battery, Iv. Vas. Anossof, an 
officer in the 14th Artillery Brigade, a copy of the following 
song : 

THE SEBASTOPOL SONG. 

' The fourth day, 1 we were gone 
To fight them on the mountain, 
The devil drove us on, 
The devil drove us on. 

It was old General Vrevsky, 2 
He used to say to Gortchakof, 

When he had had his whisky, 

1 August 4, 1855. The Battle of the Black River. 

2 Baron P. A. Vrevsky, late Chief of the Chancery of the Minister of War, 
while in the Crimea, urged Gortchakof to give a decisive battle to the 
allied Powers. 



184 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

" Prince, we must have that hill ; 
I'll tell a tale about it, 

If I don't have my will." 

The grandees, great and small, 
They've put their heads together, 
The place Becoque and all. 

But Bdcoque had some doubt, 
And what it was he'd better say 
He wouldn't quite make out. 

As they made up their mind, 
The topographers were spoiling 

The best paper they could find ; 

At last they got it right ; 
But there were three ravines to pass, 
And they forgot that quite. 

Well, Prince and Count rode out ; 
The topographers were left behind 
Upon the great redoubt. 

The Prince said, " Now, Liprandi ! " 
Said he, " I can't go on just yet, 
Hold hard a bit, attendez ; 

" You don't want clever men, 
You'd better send a man like Read, 
I'll have a look again." 

Read's not a man who fears ; 
He led us to the bridge at once, 

"So here you go, three cheers ! " 

But Martineau cried " Stop ! 
Let's wait till the reserves are here." 
"No, make the men come up." 

Hurrah ! we made a noise, 
But there must have been some mistake, 
For we never saw the boys. 

Upon Fedyukhin's height 
Only three companies arrived, 

But the whole did start all right. 

Our host was very small ! 
The French were four to one, 

Besides the thousands within call. 



THE SEBASTOPOL SONG 




Allegretto. 



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The fourth day, we were 



gone 



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3OCS ' 


P* P 1 IS h_ 







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ix 


The 


de - vil drove us 






ft 








ny-tt =1 


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The de-vil drove us on. 






186 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

The garrison, we said, 
Must surely come and help us 

When they heard the shouts we made. 

But General Sacken hied 
To praise the Holy Mother 

At the very time we cried ! 

General Belevkof shook 
The flag quite fiercely ; but that face, 
You should have seen his look. 

So it was " Right about ! " 
But oh ! the men who sent us out, 
The men who sent us out ! ' 



'As to the authorship of this witty, farcical song, 1 con- 
tinued Venyukof, * Anossof, in his letter, informed me that 
the general opinion of the army ascribed it to our gifted 
author, Count L. N. Tolstoy, "but you understand, 11 wrote 
Anossof, " one cannot exactly assert it, were it only for fear 
of injuring Tolstoy, supposing him to be really the author. 111 

Later on the same version of the song was again printed in 
the Olden Times under the signature of ' One of the authors of 
"The Sebastopol Song. 111 

This is how the part-author relates the history of the song. 

' Count L. N. Tolstoy no doubt took part in the compila- 
tion of this song, but he did not compose all its verses. It 
would not be fair to ascribe to him the whole of this witty 
production. 

' Therefore, in the interest of historical truth, I will tell you, 
as a witness, how it originated. 

'During the Crimean War, very often almost every evening 
the members of the artillery staff and some other officers used 
to meet at KrizhanovskyX who commanded the artillery staff. 

' Lieutenant-Colonel Balyuzek usually sat at the piano, all the 
rest standing round and improvising verses. Each introduced 
his thought and word. Count L. N. Tolstoy introduced his 
own too, but not all. One may say therefore that this im- 
provisation was a common act, which expressed the mood of 
the military circle. 1 

Here follow the names of the authors of ' The Sebastopol 
Song ' : Lieutenant-Colonel Balyuzek (afterwards governor of 



THE SECOND SONG 187 

Turgai, now deceased), who used to sit at the piano ; Captain 
A. Y. Friede, at present commander of the Caucasian Artil- 
lery ; Lieutenant-Captain Count L. N. Tolstoy ; Lieutenant V. 
Lughinin ; Lieutenant Shulein ; Lieutenant-Captain Serzh- 
putovsky ; Lieutenant Shklyarsky ; an officer of the Uhlan 
Regiment, N. F. Koslyaninof, No. 2, and an officer of the 
Hussar regiment, N. S. Mussin-Pushkin. 

* We received a copy of a similar song written probably under 
the same circumstances, but somewhat later. The music of it 
was given us by Sergey Tolstoy from memory. This song 
contains many popular expressions not fit for print. Where 
a change was possible, we replaced them, without changing 
rhythm or meaning, by more polite language. Where this was 
impossible, dots were put in place of the expressions. 

' September, the eighth day, 
For the faith and for the Tsar 

Before the French we ran away, 
Before the French we ran away. 

And our Prince Alexander 
Let all the fleet sink out at sea, 
Our admiral and commander. 

And then he said " Good-bye ; 
Go on all you and fight your best, 
I'm for Bakhtchisarai." 

In our rear St. Arnault lay ; 
He was kind enough to wait a bit, 
And then he blazed away. 

We were obliged to call 
For help on Tuesday's holy Saint, 
Or he'd have caught us all. 

What was Liprandi at? 
He captured all the forts he could, 
But what's the use of that ? 

From Kishinef was passed 
The word, an army would come up, 
And in they marched at last. 

'Twas Danneberg that led : 
They told him, " Never spare your men, 
You've got to go ahead." 



188 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Pavlof marched off uphill, 
And Soymonof went to meet him, 
But they may be climbing still. 

Liprandi, when he knew 
The French had got the upper hand, 
Was puzzled what to do. 

No doubt the grand dukes came, 
But the French, instead of being afraid, 
Kept firing all the same. 

Ten thousand men there fell : 
What the Tzar ever did for them 
Is more than I can tell. 

The prince, he did complain ; 
He said the soldiers were no good, 
And faced about again. 

And on that fatal day 
Of heroes there were only two, 

And the grand dukes were they. 

They had their St. George too, 
And were taken to St. Petersburg 
For all the world to view. 

And the priests, as they were bound, 
Prayed that a hurricane might come 
And all the French be drowned. 

The wind was very rough, 
But the Frenchmen stayed and faced it out, 
They were of better stuff. 

In winter they made sorties 
And many a man they killed of us 
From up there where the fort is. 

Let Khrulef come and lead, 
And drive the Turk from Kozlof, as 
We never could succeed. 

" More soldiers," Menschik prayed : 
Till the Tzar, to keep his spirits up, 
Sent Saken to his aid. 

Menschik was great at sea, 
And he wrote bluntly to the Tzar, 
" Father, our Tzar," said he, 



THE SECOND SONG 189 

" Your Yerofeyich was never 
Much more use than your youngsters, 

And I'm sure they're none whatever ! " 

The Tzar upon this flew 
Into a rage, and so fell ill, 
When holding a review. 

He went to heaven, we know, 
Most likely he was wanted there ; 
'Twas well he had to go. 

But, when on his deathbed, 
" You'd better just be on your guard,' 
Unto his son he said. 

The son was not too kind ; 
"Dear Menschik," he wrote, " you can go 
To the devil if you don't mind. 

" I know who'll do the work : 

The man I mean 's Prince Gortchakof, 

The same as fought the Turk. 

He won't much beg for men ; 
I'll send for him promotion, 

And he won't ask again." ' l 

If one thinks of the circumstances in which these songs were 
written, of all the horrors of death, groans of the wounded, 
bloodshed, fires, murders, filling the atmosphere in Sebastopol, 
one cannot help being struck with admiration of the moral 
strength of those men who could indulge in good-natured jests 
at their own cost in the face of constant threat of sufferings 
and death. 

Meanwhile in literary circles in St. Petersburg Tolstoy be- 
came more and more known. He conquered his first severe 
critic, Turgenef. Readers will remember the account of Mme. 
Golovachof-Panayef which we quote at the beginning of this 
chapter, how Turgenef checked Panayef s enthusiasm by his 
reasonings. 

In 1854 Turgenef wrote from his estate, Spasskoye, to E. Y. 
Kolbassin, a collaborator of The Contemporary : 

* I am very glad to hear of the success of Boyhood. Let 

1 This soldiers' song, as well as the first one, a few pages back, has been 
translated very freely, as it would have been impossible to render in English 
the peculiar vernacular of Kussian soldiers. Trans. 



190 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Tolstoy only survive, and I hope he will yet astonish us all his 
is a first-rate gift. I met his sister (she is married to a Count 
Tolstoy too) a very charming woman. . . .' l 

When the Sebastopol Tales were printed Turgenef became 
most enthusiastic, and thus expressed his enthusiasm in a letter 
to Panayef : 

' Tolstoy's article on Sebastopol is a gem. Tears came into 
my eyes when I read it, and I shouted hurra! I am much 
flattered by his desire to dedicate his new tale to me. I saw 
in the Moscow News the advertisement of The Contemporary. 
Very good ; God grant you may keep your promises, that is to 
say, that articles may safely pass the censorship, that Tolstoy 
may not be killed, and so on. It will help you greatly. 
Tolstoy's article made a great sensation here. . . . Spasskoye, 
July 10, 1855.' 2 

One may say that after the appearance of the Sebastopol 
Tales Tolstoy had risen to the rank of a foremost author. 
A. E. Kony, in his biography of I. F. Gorbunof, quotes the 
following interesting opinion of Pissemsky concerning these 
tales : 

* About this time,' said Kony, ' Pissemsky, who was then 
writing his remarkable novel, The Thousand Souls after 
having listened to some passages out of the Sebastopol Tales 
by the then "only promising great writer of the Russian 
Land," gruffly said to Gorbunof: "This young officer will 
eclipse us all one might as well give up writing. . . ."' 3 

After the fall of Sebastopol, Tolstoy was sent as a courier to 
St. Petersburg, and was attached to a rocket battery. 

Before leaving Sebastopol, Tolstoy had applied his literary 
abilities to making a report of the last battle. Of this report 
in his article, ' A few words concerning War and Peace,'' he 
himself says : 

* After the loss of Sebastopol, the commander of the artillery, 
Krizhanovsky, sent me the reports of the artillery officers from 
all the bastions, and requested me to compose an account from 
more than twenty of these reports. I regret that I did not 

1 The Pint Collection of I. S. Turgenef t Letters, p. 9. Published by the 
Society of Help to Authors, 1885. St. Petersburg. 

2 Literary Reminiscences by Paneyef, 1888. 

* A Biographical Sketch of /. F. Gorbunof, by A. E. Kony. (Preface and 
Workt,p. 115.) 



KRILOF'S REMINISCENCES 191 

copy them. They were the best specimen of the kind of naive, 
unfailing military falsehood which always furnishes the material 
for descriptions. I believe that many of these comrades of mine 
who composed these reports, if they read these lines, will laugh 
as they call to mind how, by the orders of the authorities, they 
wrote of matters which they could not know anything about. 1 1 

During his military service Tolstoy had disagreements with 
his superior officers and comrades owing to his love for justice. 

In accordance with the custom of those days, commanders of 
different parts of the battery, as well as the commander of the 
whole battery, used to save up part of the money given them 
from the Treasury to spend on keeping the battery. The money 
thus saved they generally kept for themselves, getting a certain 
regular income which led to many abuses. 

Tolstoy, on making his accounts, found a surplus over the 
expenses ; he added it to the sum allotted for the battery 
instead of appropriating it. This practice was viewed with 
great disfavour by other commanders, and General Kriz- 
hanovsky reproved him for it. N. A. Krilof bears testimony 
to this in his reminiscences. In 1856 he was transferred to 
the 14th Battery, which Tolstoy had recently quitted. Tolstoy 
is remembered in the brigade as a good horseman, a genial 
companion, and an athlete. He would lie on the floor, a man 
weighing 5 poods would be placed on his hands, and he would 
lift him up by straightening his arms; in tugging a stick 
nobody could beat him. A great many witty anecdotes are 
attributed to him, which he used to tell in a masterly way. 
The Count was accused of preaching to the officers to refund 
to the Government the excess of forage money in case an 
officer's horse does not consume the quantity of fodder it is 
supposed to eat. 2 

In St. Petersburg quite a different life awaited Tolstoy, into 
which he plunged with his unfailing youthful energy. 

1 ' A few words about the book War and Peace.' The Russian Archive, 
1868. 

2 Ruttkiya Vedomosti, p. 136, 1900. 



CHAPTER IX 
ST. PETERSBURG 

Arrival at St. Petersburg: Attached to the rocket battery Note from The 
Confession relating to this period The Contemporary The circle of 
writers The association Quarrel between Turgenef and Katkof Inter- 
ference of Tolstoy Belinsky and Tolstoy The cause of Tolstoy's indiffer- 
ence to Belinsky. Literary education of Tolstoy : Rousseau Stendhal 
List of books read by him Fet's acquaintance with Tolstoy at Turgenef 's 
Encounter of Turgenef with Tolstoy at Nekrassof's Grigorovich's 
recollections of Tolstoy Dinners at The Contemporary's office Dani- 
levsky's reminiscences of Tolstoy Tolstoy's attitude to Herzen 
Turgenef's opinion of Tolstoy quoted by Garshin The narrative of Mme. 
Golovachof-Panayef of Turgenef's attacks on Tolstoy. Turgenef's letters 
to Tolstoy from Paris : Their mutual relations About the articles of 
Tchernishevsky Tolstoy's opinion of Turgenef's Faust The affairs of 
The Contemporary Letter from Botkin to Druzhinin about King Lear 
Tolstoy's opinion Turgenef's letter to Druzhinin on Tolstoy Druzhinin's 
opinion of Childhood. Death of his brother Dmitry : Tolstoy's recollections 
of the death Literary works Contributing articles to three reviews 
Tolstoy's intention to go abroad The toils of love. Affairs of ' The Con- 
temporary ': Project of a new review Removal to Moscow A visit to the 
family Bers. Yasnaya Polyana : Tolstoy's illness His retirement from 
service Tolstoy's intercession in favour of a fellow-officer Entrance 
into a new period of activity. Dissatisfaction with his literary environ- 
ment : Recollections of this in Confession Foundation of a literary fund 
Pushkin's works The state of Tolstoy's mind according to Confession 
Striving after personal happiness. 

TOLSTOY was sent to St. Petersburg as a despatch-bearer. There 
he was attached to a rocket battery under General Konstantinof, 
and returned to the front no more. 

In St. Petersburg, where he arrived November 21, 1855, he 
found himself at once in the circle of The Contemporary, and 
was received there with open arms. 

In his Confessions, Tolstoy thus speaks of that period : 
* During that time I began to write, out of vanity, love of 
gain, and pride. I followed as a writer the same path which I 
had chosen as a man. In order to obtain the fame and the 
money for which I wrote, I was obliged to hide what was good, 
and bow down before what was evil. How often while writing 

193 



ARRIVAL AT ST. PETERSBURG 193 

have I cudgelled my brains to conceal, under the mask of in- 
difference or pleasantry, those yearnings for something better 
which formed the real problem of my life ! I succeeded in my 
object, and was praised. At twenty-six years of age, on the 
close of the war, I came to St. Petersburg, and made the 
acquaintance of the authors of the day. 

* I met with a hearty reception and much flattery.' l 

Naturally, during the twenty years before he wrote those 
lines, Tolstoy was beset by various feelings, though even then 
his unsparing self-analysis and scepticism were pushed so far as 
to astonish his companions. 

The Contemporary was a review founded by A. S. Pushkin 
and Pletnyof. Its first number was issued in 1836. After 
Pushkin's death, the review was published from 1838 to 1846 
by Pletnyof alone, and lost all its importance. In 1847 N. A. 
Nekrassof and T. T. Panayef became the proprietors of the 
review. In collaboration with the well-known literary critic 
Belinsky, they managed in a short time to attract the best 
authors, and, until its suppression by the authorities in 1866, 
this review was the chief organ of progressive Russian art, 
criticism, and sociology. 

At the time of Tolstoy's appearance in St. Petersburg, the 
more intimate members of this literary circle are to be seen 
in the two well-known photo-groups of authors Panayef, 
Nekrassof, Turgenef, Tolstoy, Druzhinin, Ostrovsky, Goncharof, 
Grigorovich, and Sollogulo. One may add to the circle V. P. 
Botkin, Fet, and others not included in the two groups. 

Members of the staff of The Contemporary were bound by 
certain obligations as to honoraria as well as the contribution 
of articles. These obligations were sometimes found too bur- 
densome, and caused many unpleasant frictions among literary 
men. Publishers and editors of other reviews would, by urgent 
entreaties, obtain * copy ' from the celebrated authors belonging 
to the personnel of The Contemporary. The administration of 
that review resented such proceedings very much, a feeling 
which was reciprocated by the rival publishers. Tolstoy's 
German biographer, Loewenfeld, gives a description of one such 
incident, as follows : 

' Turgenef and Katkof had a quarrel in which Tolstoy was 
involved, partly by his own fault. Turgenef had been for some 

1 How I Came to Believe, published by Free Age Press. 
VOL. I. N 



194 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

time an assiduous contributor of Katkof s, and the latter was 
naturally loth to part with such an author. He commissioned 
his brother to call daily on both the young authors, and solicit 
from them articles for his review. Turgenef, growing tired of 
those endless petitions, on a sudden impulse promised to write 
something for Katkof, but could not keep his promise. Katkof 
was furious, and attacked Turgenef in public, arguing that, 
since Turgenef promised to write for him, he could not at the 
same time give his services " exclusively " to The Contemporary.'' 
On the other hand, as a member of The Contemporary staff, he 
was precluded from contributing to Katkofs review. His gentle 
and compliant nature played him a bad turn this time. 

Tolstoy took the part of his friend. He wrote a long letter 
to Katkof in defence of Turgenef. * The gentle nature of 
Turgenef, as well as his politeness, had induced him to make 

Eromises to both parties. Tolstoy requested Katkof to publish 
is letter. Katkof agreed, on the condition that his answer 
should be printed as well, and he therewith sent a rough sketch 
of it. But it was of such a character that Tolstoy thought it 
wiser to give up his part of mediator. 1 1 

The association of The Contemporary ceased before long, and 
it became an ordinary publishing concern. 

Tolstoy did not meet Belinsky in the circle of The Contem- 
porary. The latter died in 1848, after having worked hard to 
put the Review on a satisfactory footing. His enthusiasm 
breathed new life into the dying periodical, and made its exist- 
ence secure for a long while to come. But Tolstoy was not 
influenced directly by Belinsky. The reason for this was, in 
the first place, the different character of their respective times. 
Belinsky was a man of the forties, in the full sense of the word, 
whereas Tolstoy entered upon his literary career in the fifties, 
and moved amongst Belinsky's followers, who lacked his attrac- 
tive power ; though, on the other hand, the social surroundings 
in which Tolstoy had been reared could not be favourable to 
his intimacy with these representatives of the republic of letters 
raznotchmtsy^ as they called themselves, all sorts and condi- 
tions of men. He kept company with men of his own standard 
of breeding, and even with tnem was always reserved, indepen- 
dent, mostly in opposition, and trying to influence others, while 
himself little responsive to outside influence. One may point 
1 Loewenfeld, Count L. N. Tolstoy, p. 125, Moscow. 




OSTROVSKY 



GROUP OF CONTRIBUTORS TO THE " SOVREMENNIK " 
THE " CONTEMPORARY MAZAGINE " 



FRENCH LITERATURE 195 

out a more serious cause, that underlying difference in general 
views. Though Tolstoy had not yet definitely formed his 
views of life, still the tendency of The Contemporary had never 
attracted him. 

Moreover, as Tolstoy has acknowledged in his literary work, 
he was more attracted by talent that was simply artistic than 
by that of a social tendency. 

In his youth he had been under the sway of Rousseau's 
philosophical teaching. 

Discussing the subject of French literature with Professor 
Boyer from Paris, who paid him a visit in the spring of 1901, 
Tolstoy thus expressed his opinion of his two teachers 
Rousseau and Stendhal : 

'People have been unjust to Rousseau, the greatness of his 
thought was not recognised, and he was calumniated. I have 
read the whole of Rousseau, all the twenty volumes, including 
the dictionary of music. I admired him with more than en- 
thusiasm, I worshipped him. At fifteen I wore on my neck, 
instead of the usual cross, a medallion with his portrait. With 
some of his pages I am so familiar that I feel as if I had 
written them myself. As to Stendhal, 1 continues Tolstoy, 
'I will speak of him only as the author of Chartreuse de 
Panne and Rouge et Noir. These are two great, inimitable 
works of art. I am, more than any one else, indebted for 
much to Stendhal. He taught me to understand war. Read 
once more Chartreuse de Parme, his account of the Battle 
of Waterloo. Who before him had so described war i.e. as 
it is in reality? Do you remember Fabracius crossing the 
battlefield and " understanding nothing," and how the hussars 
threw him with ease over the back of his horse, his splendid 
general's horse ? 

' Subsequently my brother, who had served in the Caucasus 
before me, confirmed the faithfulness of Stendhal's descriptions. 
He enjoyed war very much, but did not belong to those who 
believed in the Bridge of Arcole. He used to say to me, " All 
that is embellishment, and in war there is no embellishment." 
Soon afterwards in the Crimea I easily verified all this with my 
own eyes. I repeat, all I know about war I learnt first of all 
from Stendhal.' 1 

We will now give the titles of ; the literary works which 
i Paul Boyer, Le Tempt, 28th August 1901. 



196 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

influenced Tolstoy at this period. We take them from the list 
of names which we have already partly quoted. 

From twenty to thirty-five years of age Tolstoy was chiefly 
influenced by the following works : 

DEGREE 
TITLES. OP INFLUENCE. 

Goethe, Hermann und Dorothea Very great. 

V. Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris .... Very great. 



Tyuchef, Verses 

Koltsof, Vertet .: 

Fet, Verses 

Plato, Phcedo and the Symposium (Gotsin's translation) 



Great. 
Great. 
Great. 
Very great. 



Odyssey and Iliad . Very great. 

Thus we have the more or less complete list of Tolstoy's 
literary guides. 

Tolstoy entered the circle of St. Petersburg authors, his 
powerful artistic personality and obstinate, often aggressive, 
temperament creating a storm in their hitherto quiet and 
peaceful atmosphere. 

The following is from Fet's reminiscences of Tolstoy's first 
appearance in St. Petersburg : 

* Turgenef used to get up and take his tea in the St. Peters- 
burg fashion, very early, and during my short stay in town I 
called every morning about ten to have a quiet talk with him. 
On the second morning when Zakhar opened the door I saw in 
the hall a dress sword with a ribbon of St. Anne. 

' " Whose sword is this ? " I inquired, as I proceeded to the 
drawing-room. 

* " If you please, come this way," said Zakhar in a low voice, 
pointing to the left of the corridor. " This is Count Tolstoy's 
sword, and his excellency is asleep in the drawing-room. Ivan 
Sergeyevich is drinking tea in the study." 

* During the hour I spent with Turgenef we conversed in a 
low voice, being afraid to awaken Tolstoy, who was asleep in 
the next room. 

* " He is like this all the time," said Turgenef, smiling. 
" He came from Sebastopol, straight from the battery, stopped 
here at my place, and then and there plunged into dissipation. 
Carousals, gipsies, and card-playing all night; and afterwards 
he sleeps like a top till two in the afternoon. At first I tried 
to restrain him, but after a while I gave it up." 

* About this time I was introduced to Tolstoy, but our 



FET AND TOLSTOY 197 

acquaintance was a formal one, I not having yet read a single 
line of his nor even heard of him as an author, although 
Turgenef mentioned to me his tale of Childhood. But from 
the first I noticed in young Tolstoy a kind of unconscious 
antagonism to all accepted rules in the domain of reasoning. 
During this short period I saw him only once at Nekrassors, 
at our bachelor's literary party. There I witnessed how 
Turgenef, eager and breathless in discussion, was driven to 
despair by the apparently calm, but all the more sarcastic, 
replies of Tolstoy. 

'"I cannot accept," said Tolstoy, "what you said just now 
as your conviction. I stand at the door with a dagger or 
sword in hand, and say, ' Whilst I am alive, no one shall enter 
this door.' That is conviction. But you two are trying to 
conceal the real meaning of your thoughts from each other, 
and you call this conviction. 11 

'"Then why do you come here? 11 said Turgenef, panting 
and in a thin falsetto, his voice during warm discussions always 
reaching this high pitch. " Ours is not your banner ! Go to 
Princess B-e-b-e." 

'"Why should I ask you where I am to go? 11 returned 
Tolstoy. "Besides, idle talk will by no means beget con- 
victions, wherever I go. 11 

' As far as I can remember, this was the only encounter 
between Turgenef and Tolstoy at which I was present, and 
I cannot help saying that, although I understood that the 
controversy related to politics, I took too little interest in the 
subject to pay attention to it. I must add that, from what 
I heard in our circle, Tolstoy was in the right, and, if indeed 
men suffering from the regime then in force were to try to 
describe their ideal, they would find the greatest difficulty in 
formulating their wants. 

* Who of us at that time did not know the boon-companion, 
the partner in all sorts of frolics, and the capital fellow at 
telling amusing anecdotes, Dmitri Vassilyevich Grigorovich, 
celebrated for his novels and stories ? This is how he, by the 
way, told me of the encounters between Turgenef and Tolstoy 
in the same house of Nekrassof : " My dear boy, my dear boy, 11 
said Grigorovich, choking with laughter till tears came to his 
eyes, and stroking me on the shoulder, " you cannot imagine 
what scenes we had here. Mercy on us ! Turgenef speaks 



198 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

shriller and shriller, then pressing his hand to his throat, 
and with a look of a dying gazelle, whispers : ' I cannot talk 
any longer ! It will give me bronchitis ! ' and with enormous 
strides begins to walk up and down the three rooms. ' Bron- 
chitis ! 1 sneers Tolstoy, ' ifs an imaginary illness. Bronchitis 
is a metal ! 1 Of course the host Nekrassof is trembling heart 
and soul : he is afraid to lose both Turgenef and Tolstoy, in 
whom he foresees a powerful support for The Contemporary, 
so he is bound to manoeuvre. We are all upset and at a 
loss what to say. Tolstoy is lying down in the middle of 
the room on a leather sofa and sulks ; Turgenef, with the 
lappets of his jacket asunder and his hands in his pockets, 
continues to walk up and down all the three rooms. To pre- 
vent a catastrophe, I approached the sofa and said : ' My dear 
Tolstoy, don^t get excited ! You have no idea how he ap- 
preciates and loves you ! ' 'I will not allow him, 1 says 
Tolstoy, his nostrils dilating, ' to be spiteful to me. And 
now he walks up and down the room on purpose, crossing 
his democratic legs close to me. 1 11 1 l 

D. V. Grigorovich, in his Literary Reminiscences, tells a 
similar story of the earlier period of Tolstoy's acquaintance 
with St. Petersburg authors: 

' On my return from Marynsky to St. Petersburg I met 
Count Tolstoy. I was first introduced to him in Moscow at 
the house of the Sushkof family, where he still wore his 
military uniform. He lived in St. Petersburg, in Ofitzersky 
Street, on the lower floor of a small set of chambers next the 
lodgings of M. L. Mikhailof, the author. It seems they were 
not acquainted. His keeping permanent rooms in St. Peters- 
burg was incomprehensible to me, for from the very first he 
not only disliked St. Petersburg itself, but was irritated with 
everything connected with it. 

1 Having learnt from him during our interview that he was 
invited to dine that very day with the editorial staff of The 
Contemporary, and that, though he had already written for that 
review, he yet knew very little the members of its staff, I agreed 
to go with him. On the way I warned him to be careful and 
not to touch certain subjects, and in particular not to attack 
Georges Sand, who at that time was the idol of most of the 
members. The dinner went off quietly. Tolstoy was rather 

i A. Fet, My Reminiscences, Part I. p. 105. 





TURGENEF 



GRIGOROVICH 




NEKRASSOF 





PANAYEF 



ANOTHER GROUP OF CONTRIBUTORS TO 
THE " SOVREMENNIK " 



REMINISCENCES 199 

taciturn, but towards the end he could no longer control him- 
self. Hearing praise bestowed on a new novel by Georges 
Sand, he abruptly declared his hatred of her, adding that her 
heroines, if they existed in reality, ought to be tied to the 
hangman's cart and driven through the streets of St. Petersburg 
as an example. Even at that time he had formed that personal 
standpoint about women and the woman question which he so 
forcibly expressed in his novel Anna Karenin. 

' The incident at that dinner party may have been caused by 
his dissatisfaction with everything that bore the cachet of St. 
Petersburg, but more probably by his tendency to contradic- 
tion. Whatever judgment might have been passed, and the 
greater the authority of his interlocutor, the more he would 
insist on asserting an opposite view and in retorting sharply. 
Watching how he listened to his interlocutor, how he scrutinised 
him, how sarcastically he screwed up his lips, one would have 
thought he was thinking not so much how to answer a question 
as how to express an opinion which should be a puzzle and 
surprise to the questioner. This is how Tolstoy impressed me 
in his youth. In discussion he pushed his arguments to the 
furthest extreme. I happened once to be in the next room, 
when he and Turgenef were having a discussion ; hearing their 
loud voices I went into the room. Turgenef was pacing up and 
down showing signs of great embarrassment; he profited by 
the door I opened and went out immediately. Tolstoy was 
lying on the sofa, and his excitement was so great that it was 
only with great difficulty that I managed to calm him and 
take him home. The subject of their discussion remains 
unknown to me to the present moment.' * 

This tendency of Tolstoy to contradiction is also illustrated 
in the following episode related in the reminiscences of G. P. 
Danilevsky : 

4 At the end of the fifties I met Tolstoy in St. Petersburg 
in the family of a well-known sculptor and painter. The 
author of the Sebastopol Tales had just arrived in St. Peters- 
burg ; he was a young, stately artillery officer. A very good 
likeness of him at that time is to be found in the well-known 
group of photographs by Levitsky, where he is taken together 
with Turgenef, Goncharof, Ostrovsky, and Druzhinin. I 
remember well how Count Tolstoy entered the drawing-room 

1 Complete Edition of the Works of D. V. Grigorovich, vol. xii. p. 326. 



200 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

of the lady of the house during the reading aloud of a new 
work of Herzen's. Quietly standing behind the reader's chair, 
and waiting till the end of the reading, he began at first 
softly and shyly, but then boldly and hotly to attack Her/en 
and the enthusiasm with which his writings were accepted. 
He spoke with such sincerity and force, that in this family I 
did not come across Herzen's publications any more.' l 

We know that Tolstoy changed his opinion of Herzen later 
on, and this will be mentioned in due place. 

E. Garshin, in his reminiscences of Turgenef, gives the 
following interesting account of Turgenef s opinion of Tolstoy. 
It shows the early element of mutual incompatibility which 
almost brought their relations to a fatal end. 

'"Tolstoy," said Turgenef, "developed early a trait of 
character which, as the foundation of his gloomy view on 
life, causes in the first place much suffering to himself. He 
never believed in the sincerity of men. Any kind of emotion 
seemed false to him, and he had the habit, by the extra- 
ordinary penetrating glance of his eyes, of piercing through 
the man who struck him as false. 1 ' 

' Turgenef told me that never in his life had he experienced 
anything more depressing than the effect of that penetra- 
ting glance, which, combined with two or three venomous 
remarks, could exasperate one who had no great self-control 
to the verge of madness. The subject of Tolstoy's casual ex- 
periments, and almost the exclusive subject, was his friend 
Turgenef. He was, so the latter said, greatly annoyed by 
Turgenefs self-possession and his serenely calm attitude at 
that period of brilliant literary achievement, and Count 
Tolstoy seemed to have made up his mind to exasperate 
this quiet kind-hearted man, who was working with full con- 
viction of doing the right thing. The worst of it was that 
Tolstoy did not believe this, he thought that the men whom 
we consider good are only hypocrites or try to display their 
goodness, and that they affect to be convinced that they are 
doing their work for a good cause. 

' Turgenef recognised Count Tolstoy's attitude, but resolved 
by all means to keep his own ground and remain self-possessed. 
He tried to avoid Tolstoy, and with this object went to 

1 'A Visit to Yasnaya Polyana,' by G. P. Danilevsky. Historical Review, 
March 1886, p. 529. 



TURGENEF 201 

Moscow, then went to his country place, but Count Tolstoy 
followed him step by step, "like a woman in love," to use 
Turgenef s words as he told the story.' l 

All these facts as to the mutual relations of the two authors 
show that any real spiritual intimacy between them was 
impossible. But the liberal movement carried both of them 
in the same direction, and they considered themselves fellow- 
workers for the same cause. Besides, their aristocratic origin, 
their education, their prominent position in the literary 
circle all this, though against their will, was bringing them, 
outwardly at any rate, together. But, as readers will see 
from the following incident, whenever they tried to be more 
than simple companions, a conflict was the result, and this 
sometimes exposed their priceless lives to danger. To do 
them justice, they both clearly realised the distance dividing 
them, they owned it openly to each other and to others, and, 
what is more important, they made great moral efforts to 
keep up, if not cordial, at least amicable relations based on 
mutual respect. On this ground they present a suggestive 
example to following generations. 

We may insert here the account given by Mme. Golovachof- 
Panayef of the early days of the acquaintance of Turgenef 
and Tolstoy, which confirms our assertion. 

' I must go back and tell of the appearance of Count Tolstoy 
in the circle of The Contemporary. He was then still an 
officer, and the only collaborator of The Contemporary who 
wore a military uniform. His literary talent had by this 
time made such a mark that all the leaders in literature 
had to accept him as their equal. Besides, Count Tolstoy 
was not a shy man, he was aware of his talent, and behaved, 
as I thought, with a certain more or less ease of manner 
or nonchalance. 

4 1 never entered into conversation with the authors when 
they met at our house, I only listened in silence and observed 
them. I was particularly interested in watching Turgenef 
and Tolstoy, when they happened to be together and had 
a discussion or made remarks to one another, for they were 
both very clever and observant. 

* I never heard Tolstoy express his opinion of Turgenef, and 

1 E. Garshin, ' Reminiscences of I. S. Turgenef.' Historical Review, 
November 1883. 



202 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

as a rule he said nothing of any of the authors, at least 
before me. Turgenef, on the other hand, seemed impelled to 
pour out observations about everybody. 

1 When Turgenef made Tolstoy's acquaintance, he said 
of him 

' " There is not a word, not a movement, which is natural 
in him. He is constantly posing, and I am at a loss to 
understand in so intelligent a man this foolish pride in his 
wretched title of Count ! " 

* " I did not notice it in Tolstoy,"" said Payanef. 

* " But there are many things you don't notice, 1 " said 
Turgenef. 

' After a time Turgenef came to the conclusion that Tolstoy 
had the ambition to be considered a Don Juan. Count Tolstoy 
one day related to us certain interesting episodes which had 
happened to him during the war. When he went away 
Turganef said 

* " You may boil a Russian officer for three days in strong 
suds and you won't succeed in getting rid of the braggadocio 
of a Junker; you may cover him with a thick veneer of 
education, still his brutality will shine through." 

' And Turgenef began to criticise every sentence of Tolstoy's, 
the tone of his voice, the expression of his face, and finally 
said 

1 " And only to think that at the bottom of all this brutality 
lies merely the desire to get promoted." 

' " Look here, Turgenef," remarked Panayef, " if I did not 
know you so well, I should think, when I listen to your abuse 
of Tolstoy, that you are jealous of him." 

' " On what grounds can I be jealous of him ? Of what, tell 
me," cried Turgenef. 

* " Oh ! no doubt, you have no reason ; your talent is equal 
to his. . . . But people may think . . ." 

'Turgenef laughed, and with a kind of pity in his voice, 
remarked 

* " Panayef, you are a good observer when it concerns cox- 
combs, but I don't advise you to go beyond the proper sphere 
of your observations." 

4 Panayef was hurt. 

* " It's for your own good that I said that," he added, and 
went out of the room. 




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LETTERS FROM TURGENEF 203 

' Turgenef was very much excited, and repeated with vexa- 
tion : 

* " Only PanayeFs head could entertain such nonsense that I 
am jealous of Tolstoy ! Is it his title that I am jealous of? " 

' Nekrassof spoke very little all this time, suffering as he was 
from a sore throat. He merely said to Turgenef 

' " Do leave it alone, whatever Panayef may have said ; as if 
indeed any one would suspect you of such an absurdity. 11 ' l 

Turgenef, with his honest, truthful nature, had many times 
publicly declared his great admiration of Tolstoy's talent, and 
more than that, he once said to a French publisher, using the 
expression of John the Baptist in relation to Jesus Christ : ' I 
am unworthy to untie his shoe. 1 Their relations nevertheless 
were never cordial. 

Only on his deathbed, in his last letter to Tolstoy, while 
with touching tenderness imploring him to return to literary 
activity, he gave him the name with which no Russian author 
had been hitherto honoured, the name of ' the great writer of 
the Russian land. 1 And this glorious name will follow him 
into eternity. 

To give the reader an idea of the relations between Tolstoy 
and Turgenef at the early period of their acquaintance, we 
will interrupt the chronological order of our work and quote 
several letters of Turgenef to Tolstoy written in the same year. 

To L. N. TOLSTOY. 

' PAKIS, November 16, 1856. 

* MY DEAR TOLSTOY, Your letter of October 15 was crawl- 
ing towards me for a whole month. I received it only yesterday. 
I have thought well over what you write to me, and I believe 
you are mistaken. It is a fact that I cannot be quite straight- 
forward with you, because I cannot be quite frank with you. 
It seems to me that we became acquainted in an awkward way, 
and at an evil moment, but, when we meet again, all will be 
much easier and smoother. I feel I love you as a man (as to 
my love for the author needless to mention it); yet many 
things in you jar upon me, and in the end I have found out 
that it is better for me to keep aloof from you. At our next 
meeting let us try again to go hand in hand perhaps it will 

1 Reminiscence! of Mine. A. Golovachof-Panayef, p. 279. 



204 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

come off better. But at a distance, however strange it sounds, 
my heart is disposed to you as to a brother, and I feel a tender- 
ness for you. In a word, I love you there is no doubt about 
it ; let us hope that in time something good will come of it. 

' I have heard of your illness and I was grieved, and now I 
beg you to dismiss the thought of it from your mind. You are 
imagining things yourself, and probably think of consumption, 
but I can assure you, you have not got it. 

* I am very sorry for your sister ; she is one who ought to 
enjoy good health ; I mean, if there is anybody who deserves 
to be quite well, it is she ; instead, she is a constant sufferer. 
Let us hope the Moscow treatment may help her. Why don't 
you recall your brother ? Why should he stay in the Caucasus ? 
Does he intend to become a great warrior ? My uncle informed 
me that you have all of you gone off to Moscow, and I there- 
fore forward this letter to Botkin, Moscow. 

'French conversation is as distasteful to me as it is to you, 
and never did Paris appear to me so flatly prosaic. Content- 
ment does not suit it ; I saw this city in other days, and then 
I liked it better. I am kept here by an old indissoluble tie 
with a particular family, and by my daughter, of whom I am 
very fond ; she is a good intelligent girl. Were it not for this, 
I would have long ago joined Nekrassof in Rome. I have re- 
ceived from him two letters he is a little bored in Rome, and 
no wonder all that is great in Rome only surrounds him ; he 
does not share in it. And one cannot exist for long on a diet 
of sympathy and admiration, when those feelings occur involun- 
tarily only at rare intervals. Yet he is better off there than 
in St. Petersburg, and his health is improving. For the present 
Fet is staying in Rome with him. He had written a few grace- 
ful verses, and a detailed account of his travels containing much 
that is childish, but also many clever, sensible sayings and a 
kind of touching simplicity and sincerity of impression. He is 
in fact a darling, as you call him. 

'Now as to Tchernishevsky's articles. I don't like their 
arrogant, dry tone, the expression of a harsh nature. But I 
rejoice at their being printed, rejoice over the reminiscences of 
B., and the quotations from his articles; I rejoice that at last 
his name is uttered with respect. However, you cannot sympa- 
thise with me in this joy. Annenkof assures me that I derive 
these impressions from living abroad ; that with them this is 



LETTERS FROM TURGENEF 205 

already a thing of the past, they now want something else. 
Perhaps he is a better judge, as he is on the spot; still I am 
pleased. 

' You have finished the first part of Youth that is glorious. 
What a pity I cannot hear you read it ! If you don't turn 
aside from your path (and there is no reason why you should), 
you will go far ahead. I wish you health, activity, and freedom 
spiritual freedom. 

* As to my Faust, I don't suppose you will like it very much. 
My writings might have pleased you and perhaps influenced 
you in some way, but only up to the time when you became 
quite independent. There is no need for you to study me 
now, you will only see my difference of manner, my faults and 
omissions. It remains for you to study man, your own heart, 
and the really great authors. I am a writer of a transition 
period, and am of use only to men who are in a transitory 
state. Well, good-bye and be well. Write to me. My 
present address : Rue de Rivoli, No. 206. 

' Thanks to your sister for the two added words ; remember 
me to her and her husband. I am grateful to Varenka for 
remembering me. 

' I intended to tell you something of the authors here, but 
keep this for the next letter. I shake your hand warmly. 

* I do not stamp my letter, do the same with yours.' l 
December 8, 1856, he wrote to Tolstoy : 

' DEAR TOLSTOY, Yesterday my good fairy took me past 
the post-office, and it occurred to me to inquire about letters at 
the paste restante for me, though, by this time, all my friends 
ought to know of my Parisian address. There I found your 
letter, in which you speak of my Faust ; you can easily imagine 
what a pleasant reading I had. Your sympathy caused me 
great and sincere delight. And besides, the whole of your 
letter breathed gentleness and frankness and a kind of friendly 
serenity. It remains for me to hold out my hand across the 
" ravine " which long ago turned into a hardly perceptible 
chink ; we won't mention it, it is not worth it. 

* I dare not speak to you on a subject which you mention ; 
these are delicate things ; they are killed with a word before 
they are ripe, but when they are ripe a hammer cannot break 

1 Letters of I. S. Turgenef (First Collection), p. 27. 



206 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

them. God grant everything may come off successfully and 
well. It may bring you that spiritual equilibrium you needed 
so much when I first knew you. I see you are very friendly 
with Druzhinin and under his influence. This is well, only 
mind not to feast on him too much. When I was at your age 
I was more influenced by enthusiastic natures, but you are a 
different man from me ; moreover, perhaps, the times are now 
different. I am eagerly looking forward to get the Reading 
Library. I am anxious to read the article on Belinsky, although 
I don't expect to derive much pleasure from it. As to The 
Contemporary being in bad hands, that is beyond doubt. At 
first Panayef used to write very often and assure me he would 
not act " heedlessly,"" underlining this word, but he is subdued 
now and keeps silent like a child who has misbehaved at meal- 
time. I have written to Nekrassof with full details about it, 
and this will very likely induce him to leave Rome and return 
earlier than he intended. Please let me know in what number 
of The Contemporary your Youth will appear, and, by the way, 
give me your final impression of Lear, which you have probably 
read if only for the sake of Druzhinin.' 1 

We do not possess exact information as to Tolstoy's opinion 
of King Lear in Druzhinin's translation, but from the letter of 
Botkin to Druzhinin quoted below, one can see that Tolstoy 
liked Druzhinin's translation. 

Here is the letter 

* What a success your Lear proves,' writes Botkin. ' To me 
it was certain ; still, how the pleasure increases when the inner 
conviction becomes a reality. There it is, the well-known 
antipathy of Tolstoy to Shakespeare which Turgenef so much 
fought against ! I must do myself the justice to state that I 
was convinced that at the first opportunity this antipathy 
would disappear ; but I am glad that your excellent translation 
brought that opportunity.' 2 

It seems the joy of Botkin was premature, for Tolstoy per- 
sisted in his dislike to Shakespeare, but on this we shall have 
occasion to remark in one of the following chapters. 

On the 5th December 1856 Turgenef wrote to Druzhinin 
from Paris : ' By the way, I am told you are very intimate with 

1 Letters of I. S. Turgenef (First Collection), p. 33. 

2 From Druzhinin's papers, Twenty-five Years, a volume published by the 
Society of Assistance to Authors and Scholars, St. Petersburg, 1884. 



A CRITICISM OF 'YOUTH' 207 

Tolstoy, and he is now so nice and open. I am very glad. 
When this new wine has been through the fermenting process 
it will turn out a beverage worthy of the gods. What about 
his Youth, which was submitted to your judgment? I wrote 
to him twice, the second time c/o Vassenka (Botkin).' l 

Youth really was forwarded to Druzhinin to be criticised by 
him ; he read it and wrote the following interesting letter in 
answer : 

'Twenty sheets should be written about Youth. I read it 
with wrath, shouting and swearing; not on account of its 
want of literary worth, but owing to the copy and the hand- 
writing. This mixing together of two different handwritings 
distracted my attention and prevented an intelligent perusal ; 
it was just as if two voices were shouting in my ear and 
purposely confusing me, and I know that the impression was 
not as complete as it should have been. However, I will say 
to you what I can. Your task was awful, but you have 
accomplished it well. None of the present-day writers could 
have grasped the unintelligible, fleeting period of youth and 
depicted it in such a manner. Cultured people will derive 
great enjoyment from your Youth ; if anybody tells you that 
this work is inferior to Childhood and Boyhood, you may spit 
in his face. There are depths of poetry in your work ; all the 
first chapters are excellent, only until the description of spring 
and the removal of double windows, the introduction is rather 
dry. After that the arrival at the village is fine, just before 
that the description of the Nekhludof family, the father's 
explanation of his reasons for marrying, the chapters " New 
Comrades " and " I am falling through." Many chapters 
breathe the poetry of ancient Moscow, which nobody had 
observed in the proper way. Baron Z.'s coachman is admirable 
(I speak as one who understands). Some chapters are prosy 
and dry, as, for instance, all about the stipulations with Dmitri 
Nekhludof, the descriptions of his relations to Varenka, and 
the chapter on family understanding. The feast at Yar's is 
also rather long, as well as the Count's visit with Ilinka, which 
comes before it. The recruiting of Semyonof will not pass the 
censor. You must not be afraid of arguing ; it's all clever and 
original. You are apt to analyse too minutely, which might 
become a great defect. Sometimes you are ready to say, " Such 

1 Letters of I. S. Twgenef (First Collection), p. 32. 



208 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

and such a fellow's thigh indicated that he desired to travel in 
India." You must curb this inclination, but on no account 
should it be suppressed. All your analytic work should be 
conducted in this way. Every one of your defects has elements 
of force and beauty ; nearly all your merits contain grains of 
defect. 

' Your style is in harmony with your matter. You are 
illiterate in a marked degree. Sometimes your illiteracy is 
that of a neologist or a great poet who is perpetually recon- 
structing a language in his own manner, or that of an officer 
who sits in his tent and writes to a friend. It may be said for 
certain that all the pages written by you in a kindly mood are 
excellent, but as soon as you grow cold, your style gets confused 
and diabolical forms of speech bubble up. Therefore passages 
written unsympathetically should be looked through and cor- 
rected. I tried to make corrections at times, but I gave up the 
idea ; you alone can do this task and you should do it. It is of 
importance that you should avoid long sentences. Chop them 
into two or three . . . don't be afraid to use full-stops . . . 
use with scant ceremony words like that, which, and this ; they 
should be struck out by tens. If you are in a difficulty, take 
a sentence and imagine that you want to communicate it to 
somebody in a fluent, familiar way. 

' It is time to close, but there are still a good many things to 
be said. The bulk of the less educated readers will like Youth 
less than Childhood and Boyhood. The small size of these two 
works, and some episodes such as the tale of Karl Ivanovich, are 
in their favour. The dullest man cherishes a few childish 
memories and rejoices when their poetry is made clear to him, 
but the period of youth (of that confused and disconnected 
youth which is full of hard knocks and humiliation which you 
unveil for us) is usually buried in the soul, and hence it loses 
its vividness and becomes obliterated. 

1 It would mean much labour to make your work reach the 
understanding of the masses, by inserting two or three amusing 
incidents, &c., but hardly anybody could make it suit the taste 
of the majority. 

' The plot and the framework of your Youth will provide a 
feast for thinking people who understand poetry. 

* Let me know if I should forward the MS. to you or hand 
it over to Panayef. You have not made a large stride in a 



DEATH OF DMITRI TOLSTOY 209 

new direction with this work, but you have shown what there 
is in you, and what can be effected by you.' 

The fact that Druzhinin could have written to Tolstoy in 
such a manner shows that they really were on familiar terms, 
and that Druzhinin could influence him. 

Tolstoy's stay in St. Petersburg from November till May 
was interrupted by a short visit to Orel, on business connected 
with family affairs. 

February 2nd, Tolstoy received the news of his brother 
Dmitri's death; he drew a vivid picture of the latter's per- 
sonality in his Reminiscences, quoted by us in the chapter 
on Youth. Here we quote the second part of those Reminis- 
cences, referring to his brother's subsequent life, illness, and 
death : 

' When we made a partition of our property the estate 
Yasnaya Polyana, on which we lived, fell to my lot. Seryozha 
was a lover of horses, and, as there was a stud at Pirogovo, he 
received that estate, which was what he desired. To Mitenka 
and Nicolenka were given the other two estates to Nicolenka, 
Nicolskoye ; to Mitenka, the Kursk of Scherbachovka, which 
came to us from Perovskaya. I have kept a statement from 
Mitenka explaining what were his views as to the possession of 
serfs. The idea that this sort of thing ought not to be, but 
that serfs should be set free, was quite unknown in our circle in 
the forties ; the possession of serfs by inheritance appeared a 
necessary condition of life, and it was thought that the only 
thing that could be done to prevent this possession from being 
an evil was that the landowner should concern himself with the 
moral welfare of the peasants as well as their material con- 
dition. From this point of view Mitenka explained his pro- 
ject very seriously, naively and sincerely. He, a lad of twenty 
when he left the university, took upon himself the duties 
thinking that he could not do otherwise of directing the 
morality of hundreds of peasant families, and thought to do 
this by threats of punishments and punishments, as is recom- 
mended by Gogol in his letters to a landowner. I think I 
remember that Mitenka had these letters, which had been 
pointed out to him by the prudent priest, thus did Mitenka 
commence his landlord's duties. But besides these duties to- 
wards the serfs there was at that time another duty which 
it was deemed impossible to neglect that was military or 

VOL. i. o 



210 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

civil service, and Mitenka, having finished with the university, 
decided to enter the civil service. In order to decide which 
branch to select, he purchased an almanack, and, having 
examined into all the branches of civil service, he came to 
the conclusion that the most important one was legislation, 
whereupon he went to St. Petersburg and there applied to 
the officials at the head of that department. I can imagine 
Taneyefs astonishment when, on giving his reception, he 
stopped in front of a high, round-shouldered, badly dressed 
man among the supplicants (Mitenka always dressed merely 
for the purpose of covering his body), a man with quiet, fine 
eyes; and on inquiring what he wanted, received for answer 
that he was a Russian nobleman who had gone through the 
university, and, being desirous of being useful to his country, 
had chosen legislation as his province. 
' " Your name ? " 
" Count Tolstoy. 11 

' " You have not yet served anywhere ? " 
'"I have only just finished my university course, and my 
desire is merely to be useful. 11 

' " Then what post do you desire to have ? " 
* " It is all the same ; any one in which I can be useful. 11 
* His gravity and sincerity so struck Taneyef that he drove 
Mitenka to the department of legislation and there handed him 
over to an official. 

' Probably the officiaPs attitude towards him, and above all 
towards the work, repelled Mitenka, for he did not enter that 
department. He had no acquaintance in St. Petersburg 
except the student Obolensky, whom he had known at Kazan. 
Mitenka called on him at his summer residence. Obolensky 
told me about it laughing. 

' Obolensky was a very worldly, ambitious man, but gifted 
with tact. He related how on that occasion he had guests 
(probably of the aristocracy with whom Obolensky associated), 
and Mitenka came to him through the garden in a nankeen 
coat. " At first I did not recognise him, but, when I did, I 
tried to put him at his ease. I introduced him to my guests 
and asked him to take his coat off, but it turned out that there 
was nothing under the coat ; he did not think anything neces- 
sary. 11 He sat down, and immediately, without being discon- 
certed by the presence of the guests, he turned to Obolensky 



REMINISCENCES 211 

with the same question he had put to Taneyef : Where was it 
best to serve in order to be useful ? 

* To Obolensky, with his views on service as merely a means 
of satisfying ambition, such a question had probably never 
occurred. But with the tact which he possessed and with 
external good nature he answered, mentioning various posts, 
and offered his assistance. Mitenka was evidently dissatisfied 
both with Obolensky and Taneyef,'and left St. Petersburg with- 
out entering the civil service. He went to his country place, 
and, at Soudja I think it was, he accepted some local post and 
busied himself with rural work, especially amongst the peasants. 

' After we had both left the university, I lost sight of him. 
I know that he lived the same severe, abstemious life, knowing 
neither wine, tobacco, nor, above all, women, up to twenty-six 
years of age, which was very rare at that time. I know that 
he associated with monks and pilgrims, and became very in- 
timate with an extremely singular man our guardian who 
lived at Voyekofs place, a man whose origin no one knew. 
This man was called Father Luke. He walked about in a 
cassock, was very ugly, small of stature, one-eyed, but cleanly 
in his person and exceptionally strong. When he shook hands, 
he gripped your hand as if with pincers, and always spoke very 
solemnly and mysteriously. He lived at Voyekofs, near the 
mill, where he had built himself a little house, and cultivated 
a remarkable flower-garden. It is this Father Luke whom 
Mitenka used to take about with him. I heard also that he 
associated with an old-fashioned old man, a miserly neighbour- 
ing landowner, one Samoyloy. 

' I think I was already in the Caucasus when an extraordinary 
alteration took place in Mitenka. He suddenly took to drinking, 
smoking, wasting money, and going with women. How this 
came to pass with him I do not know ; I did not see him at 
the time. I only know that his seducer was a deeply immoral 
man, very attractive externally, the youngest son of Islenyef. 
I will tell about him later. In this life Mitenka remained the 
same serious, religious man he was in everything. A prostitute 
named Masha, who was the first woman he knew, he ransomed 
from her abode and took into his house. But this life did not 
last long. I believe it was not so much the vicious and unhealthy 
life which he led for some months in Moscow as the internal 
struggle and the qualms of conscience which suddenly destroyed 



212 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

his powerful organisation. He contracted consumption, went 
to the country, was treated in towns, and took to his bed at 
Orel, where I saw him for the last time, immediately after the 
Crimean War. He was in a dreadful state : the enormous 
palm of his hand appeared visibly attached to the two bones 
of the lower arm, his face was all eyes, and they were the 
same beautiful, serious eyes, with a penetrating expression of 
inquiry in them. He was constantly coughing and spitting, 
but he was loth to die, did not wish to believe he was dying. 
Poor pock-marked Masha, whom he had rescued, wearing a 
kerchief round her head, was with him and nursed him. In 
my presence, at his own wish, a miraculous ikon was brought. 
I remember the expression of his face when he prayed 
to it. 

' At that time I was particularly odious. I had arrived at 
Orel from St. Petersburg, in which city I was moving in society, 
and I was full of vanity. I was sorry for Mitenka, but not 
much. I just looked about me in Orel and went away again ; 
he died a few days later. 

' I really think that what troubled me most in his death was 
that it prevented me from taking part in some private theatri- 
cals which were then being organised at court, and to which I 
had been invited. 1 1 

Peace was concluded on March 12, and this circumstance 
made it easier for Tolstoy to get his leave. 

During the winter he finished The Snowstorm, Two Hussars, 
The Meeting in the Detachment, and A Landowner's Morning. 
Tolstoy had to distribute his works among three periodicals ; 
thus the first two novels appeared in The Contemporary, the 
third in the Reading Library, and the fourth in Memoirs of the 
Fatherland. 

Amongst other things Tolstoy wrote to his aunt Tatiana at 
this period : 

' I have finished my Hussars (a novel), and have not taken 
up anything else ; besides, Turgenef, whom I have begun to 
love (I realise it now), notwithstanding that we always 
quarrelled, is gone. Hence I feel terribly lonely.' 

This letter shows that Tolstoy's relation to Turgenef varied 
from time to time. 

St. Petersburg life was evidently not to Tolstoy's liking. Soon 

1 From Tolstoy's Personal Reminiscences. 



'THE CONTEMPORARY' 213 

after his arrival he did his best to get away, and prepared to 
go abroad. 

In the letter to his brother of March 25, 1856, he says 
incidentally : 

' I shall start for abroad in eight months ; if I can get leave 
I shall go. I have already written about this to Nicolenka 
and asked him to come with me. If we were all three to 
arrange to go together, that would be excellent. If we each 
take 1000 roubles, we could do the trip very well. Please 
write. How did you like The Snowstorm ? I am dissatisfied 
with it, seriously, and now there is much I should like to 
write, but there is really no time in this accursed St. 
Petersburg. At all events, whether I am allowed or not to 
go abroad in April, I intend to take leave of absence and stay 
in the country.' 

On the 12th of May, while yet in St. Petersburg, he put down 
in his diary : 

*A powerful means to secure true happiness in life is 
without any rules to spin in all directions, like a spider, a 
whole web of love and catch in it all that one can old women, 
children, women, and constables. 1 

It may be supposed that The Contemporary's business as 
well as literary affairs gave little satisfaction to its chief 
supporters; this was perhaps due to the individual diversity 
of convictions, views, habits, education, and surroundings of 
the contributors, as this always hinders any common work 
devised by educated people. In every circle composed of 
1 intellectuals,' division into groups very soon takes place : a 
tolerant attitude is very soon replaced by indifference; after 
that rivalry asserts itself, culminating in open enmity. That 
was the case with The Contemporary. 

As far back as the beginning of 1856 the idea struck some 
of the contributors of separating and founding a new magazine. 
Druzhinin's letter to Tolstoy bears testimony to this. In it 
he says, amongst other things : 

' Availing myself of some surplus energy, I hasten to have a 
talk with you concerning a matter which occupied us at our 
last meeting and which is now being favourably considered 
by many of our comrades in St. Petersburg. The want of 
a journal which should be purely literary and critical, and 



214 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

counteract all the frenzies and indecencies of the present time, 
is felt in a marked degree. Goncharof, Yermin, Turgenef, 
Annenkof, Maikof, Mikhailof, Avdeyef, and many others back 
up this idea with their hearty approval. If you, Ostrovsky, 
Turgenef, and perhaps our half-insane Grigorovich (though 
we could get along without him), would join this group, it 
may be taken for granted that the whole of the belles-lettres 
will be concentrated in one journal. What this organ shall 
be, whether a new journal, or a reading library on premises 
hired by the company, as to all this, you might devise some 
scheme, and let us know what it is. Here the majority is 
bent on taking a lease on moderate terms, and the publisher 
consents. For my part, I have nothing to say either for 
or against, but offer my services to a purely literary journal, 
on whatever principles it is got up. 

' As to the department of science, the following professors 
could be regarded as willing contributors : Gorlof, Oostryalof, 
Blagoveschensky, Berezin, Zernin, as well as those who con- 
tribute now I am naming the most talented Lavrof, 
Lkhovsky, Kenevich, Vodovozof, Dumilin. Although Turgenef 
is a hopeless worker, he will be a valuable man, considering his 
activity, as well as his position in literature. However, the 
details have to be left in the background now ; we must agree 
as to the whole and decide the main points. 

' Judging by the interest you have manifested in this matter, 
I count on your support. By the way, I have a request to 
make of you, as I am still following my old occupation, and 
starting a new journal might take up a good deal of time; I 
beg your permission to have you in the meantime included in 
the number of contributors to the Reading Library. Do not 
dispose of all your articles, but leave some work for me towards 
the autumn, making your own choice and stipulating for your 
own conditions. I won't worry you about this, being aware 
that without my entreaties you will do everything for me 
that you can. 

* Write me a few lines about all this and about your life in 
general, your anticipations and Marie's health; give her my 
best and sincere regards. Also let me know your address. 
We must keep up correspondence about the new journal ; I 
am afraid that our forces will get scattered, we have only 
enough for one edition. It is immaterial what was the idea 



REMOVAL TO MOSCOW 215 

of the undertaking, as long as we all unite in working at it. 
So, in summer, as you often go to see Turgenef, try to influence 
him and direct this delightful but unreliable . . . towards our 
common goal. Judging by what he has said to me a hundred 
times, the idea of such a journal should please him ; but how 
can one rely on anything he says ? Let him consider to what 
a low stage our journals have been reduced by the splitting 
of forces ; RussTcy Vestnik alone has kept its ground well, but 
it has a jaded appearance now owing to the falling off of 
"Ateney"; "Ateney," however, is very dull. There is nothing 
to say about St. Petersburg.' 

On May 17 Tolstoy set off for Moscow. 

May 26 he spent in the house of Dr. Bers, married to 
a friend of Tolstoy's childhood, Mademoiselle Islenef ; they 
were then living at Pokrovskoye, not far from Moscow. In 
Tolstoy's diary there are a few words about this visit. 

' The children were all there. What jolly, charming little 
girls ! ' One of them, the youngest, became Tolstoy's wife six 
years later. 

After that he proceeded on his journey, and on May 28 
arrived at Yasnaya Polyana. 

Next day he wrote a letter to his brother Sergey, in which, 
amongst other things, he remarked : 

* In Moscow I passed ten days . . . exceedingly pleasantly, 
without champagne and gypsies, but a little in love with 
whom I will tell you later.' 

On his arrival in Yasnaya, he naturally goes to greet his 
neighbours, his sister Marie, Turgenef and others. 

From the two following letters to his brother, we see that 
at the end of the summer he was seriously ill. Thus at the 
beginning of September 1856 he writes : 

' Only now, at nine o'clock in the evening, Monday, can I 
give you a good answer ; before this I kept getting worse and 
worse. Two doctors have been called, forty leeches have been 
applied, but it is only a little while ago that I fell asleep, and 
I nave awakened feeling considerably better. Still for five 
or six days I cannot think of going. So au revoir ; please let 
me know when you start, and whether there really are great 
arrears in the farming work of your estate, and do not de- 
vastate the sporting places too much without me; the dogs 
I may perhaps send to-morrow.' 



216 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

In his letter of September 15 he says : 

* MY DEAR FRIEND SERYOZHA, My health has improved and 
it has not. The pains and the inflammation have passed, but 
there remains some kind of oppression in the chest. I feel 
shooting sensations and, towards the evening, pains. Perhaps 
it will pass off gradually of itself, but I shall not soon make 
up my mind to go to Kursk, and, if not soon, then it is no 
good going at all. If I am not better in a fortnight or so, I 
would rather go to Moscow.' 

Soon after he again removed to St. Petersburg, whence he 
wrote to his brother the 10th of November 1856 : 

' Excuse me, dear friend Seryozha, for writing only two 
words. I have no time. Since my departure ill luck pursues 
me. Of those I love not one is here. In the Otechestvenniya 
Zapiski, they say I have been abused for the Military 
Stories. I have not yet read it, but Konstantinof made a 
point of informing me the moment I arrived that the Grand 
Duke Michael, 1 having learned that I was reported to have 
composed a song, is displeased, especially for my having, as 
it was said, taught it to the soldiers. This is too bad. I 
have had an explanation upon the subject with the Chief of the 
Staff. There is only one thing as it should be, my health 
is all right, and Shipulinski says my lungs are in perfect order.' 

On November 26, 1856, Tolstoy retired from military 
service. We may mention a good act done by him at the 
close of his service. 

The commander of the battery where Tolstoy served, 
Captain-Lieutenant Korenitsky, was to be tried by court- 
martial after the war, but thanks to Tolstoy's influence and 
exertions he was spared. 

With the retirement of Tolstoy from service begins a new 
period of his life, full of social and literary interests, with 
strivings after personal happiness. 

Notwithstanding his uncompromising views and his rejection 
of literary authorities, Tolstoy was a welcome guest and a 
valued member of the literary circle of The Contemporary. 

But Tolstoy himself was far from pleased with that circle. 
It could not be otherwise. One need only read the reminis- 

1 Brother of the Emperor Nicholas I. 




LEO TOLSTOY AT THE TIME OF HIS RETIREMENT 
FROM MILITARY SERVICE, 1856 



HIS LITERARY CIRCLE 217 

cences of authors belonging to that period, for example, 
Herzen, Panayef, Fet, and others, men of different schools, 
to come to very sad conclusions as to the moral weakness of 
those men, though they pretended to be leaders of humanity. 
When we think of the dinner parties of Nekrassof, the 
carousals of Herzen, Ketcher, and Ogarel, Turgenefs love 
for the culinary art, all those friendly parties, incomplete 
without a great deal of champagne, hunting, card-playing, 
etc. we are pained to think of the idleness, the mental 
blindness of these men, who could not see the evil of their 
revels, with all the love for democracy and progress which they 
mixed up with them. In the midst of this shamelessness, 
which is perhaps still going on in some shape or other even 
at the present day, only one voice of accusation and self- 
correction resounded the voice of a man whose soul could 
not endure that self-deception. That voice was Tolstoy's. 

In his Confession he gives the following picture of the 
manners of the literary people, i.e. of society at the end of 
the fifties and beginning of the sixties : 

' Before I had time to look round, the prejudices and views 
of life common to the writers of the class with which I 
associated became my own, and completely put an end to all 
my former struggles after a better life. These views, under 
the influence of the dissipation into which I plunged, issued 
in a theory of life which justified it. The view taken by my 
fellow- writers was, that life is a development, and the principal 
part in that development is played by ourselves, the thinkers, 
while, among the thinkers, the chief influence is again due to 
ourselves, the poets. Our vocation is to teach mankind. 

1 In order to avoid answering the very natural question, 
"What do I know, and what can I teach?" the theory in 
question is made to contain this formula, that the answer is 
not required, but that the thinker and the poet teach un- 
consciously. I was myself considered a marvellous litterateur 
and poet, and I therefore very naturally adopted this theory. 
Meanwhile, thinker and poet though I was, I wrote and taught 
I knew not what. For doing this I received large sums of 
money; I kept a splendid table, had an excellent lodging, 
associated with loose women, and received my friends hand- 
somely; moreover, I had fame. It would seem, then, that 
what I taught must have been good, the faith in poetry and 



218 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

the development of life was a true faith, and I was one of its 
high priests, a post of great importance and of profit. I long 
remained in this belief, and for a year never once doubted its 
truth. 

'In the second year, however, and especially in the third 
of this way of life, I began to doubt the absolute truth of the 
doctrine, and to examine it more closely. The first suspicious 
fact which attracted my attention was, that the apostles of 
this belief did not agree among themselves. Some proclaimed 
that they were the only good and useful teachers, and all 
others worthless ; while those opposed to them said the same 
of themselves. They disputed, quarrelled, abused, deceived, 
and cheated one another. 

' Moreover, there were many among us who, quite indifferent 
to right or wrong, only cared for their own private interests. 
All this forced on me doubts as to the truth of our belief. 
Again, when I doubted this faith in the influence of literary 
men, I began to examine more closely into the character and 
conduct of its chief professors, and I convinced myself that 
they were men who led immoral lives, and were most of them 
worthless and insignificant individuals, and far beneath the 
moral level of those with whom I had associated during my 
former dissipated and military career ; these men, however, had 
none the less an amount of self-confidence only to be expected 
in those who are conscious of being saints, or for whom holiness 
is an empty name. 

' I grew disgusted with mankind and with myself, and dis- 
covered that the belief which I had accepted was a delusion. 
The strangest thing of all was that, though I soon saw the 
falseness of the belief and renounced it, I did not renounce the 
position I had gained by it ; I still called myself a thinker, a 
poet, and a teacher. I was simple enough to imagine that I, 
the poet and thinker, was able to teach other men without 
knowing myself what it was I attempted to teach. I had only 
gained a new vice by my companionship ; it had developed 
pride in me to a morbid extreme, and the self-confidence with 
which I taught what I did not know amounted almost to 
insanity.' l 

However, while living in the same circle with these men, 
Tolstoy had taken part in all their affairs, and was one of 

1 How I Game to Believe, pp. 9-11. 



EXTRACTS FROM DIARY 219 

the most active members in their common enterprises. Thus 
one of the most important schemes of the Society of Assist- 
ance to Authors and Scholars, the so-called 'Literary Fund, 1 
is in many respects indebted to him for its foundation. 
Druzhinin is generally considered the founder of the society. 
But in Tolstoy's diary there is the following note : 

' Jan. 2, 1857. I wrote a project of the fund at Druzhinin's.' 

The name of Tolstoy must therefore be added to the list of 
the founders of the ' Literary Fund. 1 

To this period belong his more thorough study and admira- 
tion of Pushkin's works. 

According to Tolstoy, he seriously appreciated Pushkin after 
having read MerimeVs French translation of his Gipsies. 

The reading of this work, thus expounded in prose form, 
gave Tolstoy a very strong impression of the greatness of 
Pushkin^ poetical genius. 

In Tolstoy^ diary, of the date January 4, 1857, there is 
the following remark : 

* I dined at Botkin^ house alone with Panayef ; he read 
Pushkin to me. I went into BotkhVs study, and there wrote 
a letter to Turgenef, then I sat down on a couch and wept 
with joyful tears. I am of late decidedly happy, rejoicing in 
the advance of my moral development. 1 

The advance of moral development to which he refers did 
not allow Tolstoy to find satisfaction in that society and in 
its work, and he eagerly looked for another outlet. As a 
restless spirit usually manifests its uneasiness in action, so 
Tolstoy showed restless activity, and one way in which his 
impatience found vent was foreign travel, apparently without 
a fixed plan. This is what he says about the matter in his 
Confession, judging himself and those surrounding him with 
his characteristic plainness of speech : 

' I lived in this senseless manner another six years, up to the 
time of my marriage. During this time I was abroad. My 
life in Europe, and my acquaintance with many eminent and 
learned foreigners, confirmed my belief in the doctrine of 
general perfectibility, and I found the same theory prevailed 
among them. This belief took the form which is common 
among most of the cultivated men of the day. It may be 
summed up in the word " progress. 11 I believed at that time 
that this word had a real meaning. I did not understand 



220 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

that, when, on being tormented like other men by the 
question how I was to better my life, I answered that I must 
live for progress, I was only repeating the reply of one who 
is carried away in a boat by the waves and the wind, and who, 
to the one important question, " Where are we to steer ? " 
should answer, " We are being carried somewhere or other. 1 1 

But, before going abroad, Tolstoy gave up a great deal of 
time to the search for personal and family happiness. 

1 How I Came to Believe, p. 12. 



CHAPTER X 
ROMANCE 

The importance of this romantic experience in Tolstoy's life A short 
summary of similar facts in his earlier life His acquaintance with the 
family A. Departure of A. for the coronation fetes Letter of V. A. to 
Tolstoy's aunt about the coronation The indignation of Tolstoy His 
answer Tolstoy's journey to St. Petersburg for two months in order to 
test the depth of his feelings The resumption of good relations Tolstoy's 
letters evince doubt concerning stability and wisdom of their sentiment 
Tolstoy's letter to his aunt Tatiana asking for advice A letter con- 
cerning true love Correspondence interrupted for three weeks by V. A. 
forbidding him to write to her Last letter of Tolstoy to V. A. from 
Russia Tolstoy's letter to his aunt from Moscow Tolstoy's final letter 
to V. A. from Paris Tolstoy's letters to Tatiana concerning his former 
love The connection of this love affair with Family Happiness. 

I HAVE now to relate one of the most important passages of 
Tolstoy's life, embracing the history of his falling in love. It 
did not lead to marriage, still, in my opinion, it must have had 
a very great influence on his life. Like many other episodes 
it brings out very clearly certain traits of his character, such 
as, in the first place, his ardent impulsive nature, and next the 
power exercised by his supreme guide, reason, which keeps the 
passions under control and directs them to a good end ; lastly, 
the simplicity, sincerity, and chivalry of his character. We 
see this both where his actions are determined by the highest 
principles, and also in connection with the petty details of 
everyday life. The story is interesting in itself as dealing 
with the relations between a man and a woman, and giving 
in connection therewith a grave and instructive experience, by 
attention to which young people might be saved from a great 
deal of unhappiness. 

In Tolstoy's life up to this time there had already been a 
few incipient love affairs, but they had led to nothing. The 
strongest case was that of his boyish affection for Sonitchka 
Kaloshin. This was followed by the affair of Z. N. while he 
was at the University ; but the love really only existed in his 

221 



222 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

own imagination, Z. N. herself hardly knew anything about 
it. The Cossack girl has been mentioned already. After this 
there was a kind of a society love affair with Madame S., of 
which she herself probably was scarcely conscious ; Tolstoy was 
always shy and reserved in connection with such matters. 

However, his love for V. A. was a more powerful and serious 
feeling. Their relations had become thoroughly understood 
and avowed, and had been declared to a circle of relatives and 
acquaintances as those of lovers. 

Unfortunately, Tolstoy's extensive and interesting corre- 
spondence with this girl cannot yet be published owing to 
circumstances beyond my control, and I have to confine myself 
to a short summary of its contents. 

Let us remember how, in a letter from Sebastopol, Tolstoy 
complained of the want of female society and expressed his 
fear of becoming incapacitated for it, and thus depriving 
himself of the possibility of married life, which he held in 
high honour. 

Thoughts of women and family life were constantly in his 
mind after he returned from the campaign, and on his way 
through Moscow he was struck by a good-looking girl, the 
daughter of a landowner of the neighbourhood, the result 
being, in no long time, a romantic mutual attachment. 

The first letter is written by Tolstoy from Yasnaya Polyana 
to Moscow, where the young lady was staying. The family 
she lived in comprised an aunt, a fashionable lady who was 
fond of court life, and three sisters, besides this lady's nieces 
and Zh., and also a French governess. After spending the 
summer in Sudakovo, a country place not far from Yasnaya 
Polyana, they moved to Moscow in August to be present at the 
coronation festivities of Alexander II. in August 26, 1856. 

The young lady enjoyed herself very much during the 
festivities, and, in a letter to Tolstoy's aunt, she described 
them in enthusiastic language. This letter was the first dis- 
appointment to Tolstoy. As he was attracted by the girl, he 
could not help looking upon her as his possible life-companion, 
and he thought he ought to explain to her his views of social 
and family life, but he was disagreeably surprised by finding 
himself completely misunderstood, the lady's attitude towards 
sundry questions of the highest importance being one of 
absolute indifference. However, he still hoped to influence her 



LOVE AFFAIR WITH V. A. 223 

in the right direction, in reliance on her young and susceptible 
nature, and, finding her by no means unsympathetic, he used 
all his eloquence to make her take a serious view of their 
relations. Consequently his letters breathe the most tender 
solicitude for her, are full of precepts relating to trifles, but 
leading incidentally to general questions of philosophy. Now 
and then in distress at her lack of comprehension he would 
write in a bitter sarcastic tone ; then, again, he would soften 
down to a tender caress as from a father to his child. 

In one letter he expresses his horror and despair at the 
discovery how unworthy of her, as he held, were the objects 
in which she took an interest. In fact, he mercilessly jeers 
at the young lady's passion for coronation festivities, balls, 
parades, and flirtations with aides-de-camp, and ends his letter 
with a portentously affected sentence. 

For a long time he got no answer. He was agitated, wrote 
again, begged for forgiveness, and at last succeeded in eliciting 
a good-humoured reply. 

It appears from his letters that, after the coronation, the 
family returned to Sudakovo, where Tolstoy was often in their 
house, and that the mutual inclination grew and strengthened. 

But Tolstoy was not the man to be carried away blindly 
and heedlessly by his feelings. He resolved to submit their 
attachment to the test of time and distance, and went to stay 
at St. Petersburg for two months. 

From Moscow he wrote a letter in which he attempted a 
sort of education of the young lady, which letter makes it 
plain that what is called the passion of love did not exist 
between them. 

He goes very fully into the question of mutual attraction 
and insists upon the very great significance of marriage, and 
finally he explains his determination to put their friendship 
to the test of a temporary separation. Though this did not 
appeal to the young lady, whose affections were strongly 
engaged, yet she agreed, and they kept up a correspondence. 

Before long Tolstoy had to go through a new trial not 
imposed by himself, but coming from without. While in 
St. Petersburg, he learnt from a trustworthy source that this 
* charming girl' allowed her pianoforte teacher, Mortier, to 
make love to her, and that, in fact, she fell in love with him. 
And all this took place during those unfortunate coronation 



224 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

fetes. It is true she tried hard to counteract this feeling, and 
even broke off all relations with Mortier, but the very fact of 
this sudden love affair was a frightful shock to Tolstoy. Under 
the impulse of the bitter feeling called forth by this discovery 
he wrote to her a letter full of reproaches, but, evidently 
relenting, he never posted it. Then he wrote another, which 
was posted. In this he also referred somewhat severely to the 
flirtation with Mortier. 

One can, of course, easily notice that the discovery made by 
Tolstoy of the continued relations of the lady with Mortier 
caused an incurable wound to his developing love, and that he 
did not cut short his relations with her only because he thought 
nature and time would fulfil the operation better. From that 
time they became more of comrades, and only at rare intervals, 
and then, I presume, more in imagination, did the flame of love 
show itself. 

Getting no answer to his letter, and having very probably 
satisfied himself with the argument that l pas de nouvettes 
bonnes nouvelles? he continued to influence her life rather as 
her teacher than as her lover, and wrote her a detailed letter 
concerning their possible relations in the future, setting forth 
for her a minute plan of their duties, surroundings, circle 
of acquaintances, and apportionment of time, and trying to 
get his future life-companion interested in serious and vital 
questions. 

He did not receive any answer to his letters for a long time, 
and remained somewhat in doubt. 

At last he was rewarded for his patience by receiving several 
belated letters all at once, and the relations between the two 
friends became again very loving. 

He initiates her in his literary plans, describes his life in 
St. Petersburg, and continues to develop his pure and high 
ideals of family life to her. 

However, the beginning of doubt which had crept into 
Tolstoy's mind is more evident in these last letters. Through 
the expressions of love a kind of oppressive feeling betrays 
itself, as the outcome of their somewhat artificial relations. 
This false note becomes obvious also to her, the intensity of 
their mutual feeling grew less, and both were on the lookout 
for an honourable escape. 

In a letter to his aunt Tatiana, Tolstoy confessed the cool- 



LETTER TO HIS AUNT 225 

ing down of his love, and asked her advice in this difficulty. 
The letter was written in Moscow, to which place he went early 
in December and remained till the end of the month. 

' MOSCOW, Dec. 5, 1856. 

' You again write to me about V. in the same tone in which 
you have always spoken to me about her, and I again answer 
in the way in which I have always answered. Just as I had 
left, and for a week later, it appeared to me that I was in love, 
as it is called, but, with my imagination, that is not difficult. 
At present, and especially since I have strenuously taken to 
work, I would like, and very much like, to say that I am in 
love with or simply love her, but this is not the case. The one 
feeling I have toward her is gratitude for her love, and also the 
thought that of all the girls I have known and do know she 
would have been the best for my wife, as I understand married 
life. It is in this that I would like to know your candid 
opinion as to whether I am mistaken or not, and I desire your 
advice, firstly, because you know both her and me, and, above 
all, because you love me, and those who love are never mistaken. 
It is true that I have tested myself very unsatisfactorily, for 
since I left I have been leading a solitary life, rather than a 
dissipated one, and have seen very little of women, but not- 
withstanding this, I have often had minutes of vexation with 
myself for having so closely approached her, and have repented 
of it. Still, I say that, were I once convinced of the constancy 
of her nature, and sure that she would always love me, if not 
as much as she does now, at least more than she does any 
one else, I would not hesitate a minute to marry her. I am 
sure that in that case my love towards her would continually 
increase, and that by means of this feeling she could become a 
noble woman.' 

His letters to the young lady had now become cool and 
argumentative. He still used the words ' in love,' but, it seemed, 
only playfully, without the former enthusiasm. He addressed 
his letters to St. Petersburg, where she went to spend the 
winter season an ambition she had cherished for a long time. 

The coldness in the tone of his letters did not escape her, 
and she wrote to him with loving reproach. Two kind letters 
from her resulted in some return of love on his part ; he sent 

VOL. i. p 



226 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

her a letter written in a soft tone, and with some warmth of 
expression. In a subsequent letter Tolstoy confesses that he is 
' losing his head, 1 and tries to define ' love ' by reference to the 
mutual education that comes of it. However, as may be seen, 
they could never agree as to what love precisely was, and the 
more sincerely and cordially Tolstoy expressed his thoughts 
and his feeling for her, the less they penetrated her soul and 
the more resistance she offered. This same resistance his last 
letter failed to overcome, and her reply made him change his 
tone, and friendship took the place of love. 

After this there followed an interruption of three weeks. 
Very evidently their relations had changed and turned into 
friendship. Tolstoy meanwhile settled in St. Petersburg in 
order to prosecute his literary work. They exchanged letters 
once more ; however, nothing was arranged, and she forbade 
him to write to her. But he continued to write, confessing 
his guilt towards her and himself. 

He further tells her that he is going abroad, and gives her 
his address in Paris, begging her to write to him there, were 
it even for the last time. 

Finally, before he left Moscow for abroad, he wrote to his 
aunt about the whole matter. 

' DEAR AUNT, I have received my passport for abroad and 
have come to Moscow, intending to pass a few days with 
Marie, and then go to Yasnaya to arrange my affairs and 
take leave of you. 

' But I have now changed my mind, chiefly on Mashenka's 
advice, and have decided to remain with her here a week or 
two, and then go direct by Warsaw to Paris. You probably 
understand, dear Aunt, why I do not wish to come to Yasnaya 
now, or rather to Sudakovo, and even ought not to do so. I 
think I have behaved very badly in relation to V., but, by 
seeing her now, I should behave yet worse still. As I have 
written you I am more than indifferent to her, and fear I 
can no longer deceive either myself or her. Whereas, if I 
came, I might perhaps, owing to weakness of character, again 
deceive myself. 

'Do you remember, dear Aunt, how you laughed at me 
when I told you that I was leaving for St. Petersburg that 
I might test myself, yet it is to this idea that I owe the fact 



LETTER TO HIS AUNT 227 

of not having made the unhappiness of this young lady and 
myself, for do not think that it was inconstancy or infidelity. 
No one has taken my fancy during these two months, but I 
have simply come to see that I was deceiving myself, and 
that I have not only never had, but never shall have, the 
slightest feeling of true love for V. The only thing which 
greatly pains me is that I have injured the young lady, and 
that I shall not be able to take leave of you before my de- 
parture. I intend returning to Russia in July, but, should 
you desire it, I will come to Yasnaya to embrace you, for I 
shall have time to get your answer at Moscow. 1 

After this Tolstoy really got away, and from Paris, in reply 
to a letter from his old sweetheart, which he received there, 
he wrote her his last friendly letter, in which he speaks of 
his feeling as of a mistake belonging to the past, thanks her 
for her friendship, and wishes her happiness. 

Tolstoy's aunt evidently did not approve of this rupture, 
as she was desirous to see her nephew married, and before 
long she reproached him for his inconstancy, even accusing 
him of having acted dishonourably towards the girl who had 
been tormented with doubts and expectations on his account. 
In reply to this Tolstoy wrote the following interesting 
letter : 

* By your letter, dear Aunt, I see that we do not at all 
understand each other in regard to this affair. Although I 
confess that I was to blame, in having been inconstant, and 
that everything might have happened quite differently, yet 
I think I have acted quite honestly. I have never ceased to 
say that I did not know the feeling that I had for the young 
lady, but that it was not love, and that I was anxious to test 
myself. The experience showed me that I was mistaken in 
my feeling, and I wrote about it to V. as plainly as I could. 

' After this, my relations with her have been so sincere that 
I am sure the memory of them will never be disagreeable, were 
she to marry, and it is for this reason that I wrote to her, 
saying that I would like to hear from her. I do not see why 
a young man should necessarily either be in love with a girl 
and marry her, or have no friendly relation with her at all, 
for as to friendship and sympathy for her, I have always 
retained a great deal. Mademoiselle Vorgani, who wrote me 



228 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

such a ridiculous letter, should have realised all my conduct 
in regard to V., how I endeavoured to come as seldom as 
possible, how it was she who engaged me to come oftener and 
to enter into nearer relations. I understand her being vexed 
that a thing she had greatly desired did not take place, (I 
am perhaps more vexed than she,) but that is no reason for 
telling a man who has endeavoured to act in the best way 
possible, and who had made sacrifices for fear of rendering 
others unhappy, that he is a brute, and making every one 
else think so. I am sure Tula is convinced I am the greatest 
monster.' 

Judging by this letter one can imagine what impression the 
rupture made on the lady and her friends. 

A short time afterwards, having learnt from his aunt's 
letter that his old sweetheart's sister was getting married, 
his former feeling re-awoke, and he wrote as follows : 

' As to V., I never loved her with a real love, but I allowed 
myself to be drawn into tasting the evil pleasure of inspiring 
love, which afforded me an enjoyment which I had never 
known before. 

* But the time I have passed away from her has proved to 
me that I have no longing to see her again, much less to marry 
her. I feel only fear at the thought of the duties I should be 
obliged to fulfil towards her without loving her, and it is for 
this reason that I made up my mind to go away sooner than 
I intended. I have behaved very ill; I have asked pardon 
of God, and I ask it of all those I have grieved, but it is 
impossible to repair matters, and now nothing in the world 
could make the thing begin anew. I desire all happiness to 
Olga; I am enchanted with her marriage, but to you, my 
aunt, I confess that, of all things in this world, that which 
would give me the greatest pleasure would be to learn that 
V. was going to marry a man whom she loved, and who was 
worthy of her ; for although I have not got in the depth of 
my heart the slightest atom of love for her, I still regard her 
as a good and honourable girl.' 

Thus ended this short but pathetic affair, a most interesting 
passage in Tolstoy's life. Having known a period of strong 
agitation and outlived it, he, so to speak, turned to account 
this episode of his life with the sensations which he experi- 
enced, by describing them in his novel Family Happiness, in 



END OF HIS LOVE AFFAIR 229 

an artistic form, as any one can see who compares the work 
of art with the author's actual life. We may in fact say that 
what is represented as taking place in the novel, is the course 
of events which might have occurred in his real life, and the 
real romance was the commencement or prologue of the fiction. 
After this unsuccessful affair Tolstoy resumed his literary 
and social activity. 



PART IV 

TRAVELS, LITERARY AND SOCIAL 
ACTIVITY 






PART IV 

TRAVELS, LITERARY AND SOCIAL ACTIVITY 

CHAPTER XI 

THE FIRST JOURNEY ABROAD LIFE IN MOSCOW 

BEAR-HUNTING 

Departure abroad by post-chaise A letter from Turgenef A letter from Botkin 
Relations between Turgenef and Tolstoy Journey to Dijon Albert 
Whilst in Paris Tolstoy is present at an execution Tolstoy's thoughts 
on this, from his diary and Confession Journey to Piedmont Departure 
to Clarens A letter to Tatiana The Countess A. A. In Boccage 
Journey on foot to Chateau d'Oex Swiss pictures of nature Journey to 
Lucerne A letter to Tatiana Incident with a musician Protest and 
profession of faith by Tolstoy Return to Russia Visit to Nekrassof 
Reading of the tale Lucerne Return to Yasnaya Polyana The programme 
of life What is self-sacrifice The Iliad and the New Testament 
Silence of critics Tolstoy's opinion of it Departure from Moscow Visit 
to Fet Society life, gymnastics Arrival in Moscow of the Countess 
A. A. Tolstoy Tolstoy's journey to the Princess Volkonsky Three 
deaths The return to Yasnaya Polyana The formation of a musical 
society in Moscow Letter about spring to the Countess A. A. Tolstoy 
Visit to Yasnaya Polyana by the Fets T. A . Yergolsky : Her recollections 
of Tolstoy His attraction for the duties of his estate Tolstoy's letter to 
Fet Views of the nobility of Tula upon the emancipation of the serfs 
Tolstoy's letter about authorship to Fet The bear hunt Fet's narrative 
Tolstoy's letter to Tatiana A great desire is worse than slavery A 
short trip to St. Petersburg Verses of Turgenef Tolstoy at Turgenef's 
in Spassky Unhappy mood The work at school Recollection of it in 
Confession The election of Tolstoy as a member of the Moscow Society of 
Admirers of Russian Literature Tolstoy's speech and the reply of 
Khomyakof The fulfilled prophecy. 

JANUARY 29, Tolstoy left Moscow and travelled by mail post 
to Warsaw, and from Warsaw by rail to Paris, where he 
arrived on February 21. 

There Turgenef awaited him. As early as January 23 the 
latter wrote to Druzhinin : 

' Tolstoy writes that he intends coming over here, and then 

233 



234 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

going in the spring from here to Italy. Tell him to make 
haste, if he wishes to find me. Anyhow, I will write to him 
myself. Judging from his letters, I see that he is going through 
most beneficial changes, and I am rejoicing at it like an "old 
nurse." I have read his Landowner's Morning, which pleased 
me very much by its frankness and almost full freedom of 
conviction ; I say " almost, 11 because in the way he states the 
problem to himselflies (perhaps unknown to him) a certain 
prejudice. The essential moral impression of the tale (I don't 
speak of the artistic one) is this, that until serfdom ceases 
to exist, there would be no possibility of rapprochement and 
mutual understanding in spite of the most disinterested, honest 
desire to meet, and this impression is good and true ; but side 
by side with it runs another secondary impression namely, 
that, on the whole, teaching the peasant or improving his 
position is useless, and this impression I cannot agree with. 
But his mastery of the language, of the tale, of characteristics, 
is very great. 1 

After meeting Tolstoy, Turgenef wrote to Polonsky : 

* Tolstoy is here. A change for the better has taken place 
in him, and a very considerable one. 

* This man will go far and will leave a deep trail after him. 1 
In a letter to Kalbassin, of March 8, from Paris Turgenef 

said : 

* I very often see Tolstoy here, and I had the other day a 
very nice letter from Nekrassof, dated from Rome. 

' But I cannot become intimate with Tolstoy, we take such 
different views. 1 

This is Tolstoy's estimate at that time of Turgenef and 
Nekrassof, whom Tolstoy found in Paris, as quoted by Botkin 
in his letter to Druzhinin of March 8, 1857. 

Tolstoy writes thus about his interview with him : 

' They are both roaming in a sort of darkness, they are 
dejected and complain of life, do nothing, and apparently 
both feel the weight of their mutual relations. 1 

Turgenef writes that Nekrassof suddenly went away again 
to Rome. Tolstoy's letter is only a page, but full of vitality 
and freshness. Germany interests him very much, and he 
intends to study that country more fully by-and-by. In a 
month's time he starts for Rome. 1 

1 From Papers by Druzhinin, Twenty-Jive Years' Manual. St. Petersburg, 1884. 



WITNESSES AN EXECUTION 235 

This correspondence shows that the relations between 
Tolstoy and Turgenef were always unsatisfactory, and that 
with all their efforts, they could not become cordial friends. 

In March Tolstoy and Turgenef made a journey to Dijon 
and spent a few days together there. While there, Tolstoy 
wrote the tale about the musician Albert. Then they came 
back to Paris, where Tolstoy witnessed an execution which 
he described in his Confession, and which made an indelible 
impression upon him, of which he made a brief entry in his 
diary ; 

' 6th April 1857. I rose before seven and went to see an 
execution. A stout, white, healthy neck and breast : he kissed 
the Gospel and then death. What a senseless thing! It 
made a strong impression, which has not been in vain. I am 
not a political man. Morality and Art I know that I love 
and can . . . The guillotine for a long time prevented me 
from sleeping, forcing me to look round. 1 

This is what he says on the subject in How I Came to 
Believe : 

' Thus, during my stay in Paris, the sight of a public execu- 
tion revealed to me the weakness of my superstitious belief in 
progress. When I saw the head divided from the body, and 
heard the sound with which they fell separately into the box, 
I understood, not with my reason, but with my whole being, 
that no theory of the wisdom of all established things, nor of 
progress, could justify such an act; and that if all the men in 
the world from the day of creation, by whatever theory, had 
found this thing necessary, it was not so, it was an evil thing. 
And that, therefore, I must judge of what was right and neces- 
sary, not by what men said and did, not by progress, but what 
I felt to be true in my heart. 1 1 

Tolstoy put oft' his journey to Rome till the autumn, and in 
the spring set out from Paris for Geneva, from which place he 
writes to his aunt Tatiana : 

' I have passed a month and a half in Paris, and so pleasantly 
that I say to myself every day that I did well to come abroad. 
I have gone very little either into society or the literary world 
or the world of cafes and public entertainments, but, neverthe- 
less, I have found so much here that is new and interesting to 
me that every day, when I go to bed, I say to myself: " What 

1 My Confestion, p. 6. Published by the Free Age Press. 



a pity it is the day has passed so quickly ! " I have not even 
had time to work as I intended. 

* Poor Turgenef is very ill physically, and still more so 
morally. His unfortunate connection with Madame V. and 
her daughter keeps him here in a climate which is very bad 
for him, and it is piteous to see him. I should never have 
thought he could so love ! ' 

From Geneva Tolstoy went on foot to Piedmont with Botkin 
and Druzhinin, who had come there ; after that he settled down 
on the banks of Lake Geneva, at the little village of Clareus, 
from which the wrote an enthusiastic letter to his aunt 
Tatiana : 

ISth May 1857. 

*I have just received your letter, dear Aunt, which has 
found me, as you must know by my last letter, in the neigh- 
bourhood of Geneva, at Clarens, in the same village as that in 
which .Rousseau's Julie lived. ... I will not attempt to de- 
scribe the beauty of the country, especially at the present 
time, when all is in leaf and flower, I will merely tell you that 
it is literally impossible to tear oneself away from this lake 
and these shores, and that I pass most of my time in gazing 
and admiring as I walk about, or else merely as I sit by the 
window in my room. I do not cease to congratulate myself 
on the idea I had of leaving Paris and coming to pass the 
spring here, although it brought upon me your reproach 
of inconsistency. I am really happy, and I begin to feel 
the advantages of having been born with a silver spoon in 
my mouth. 

' There is here a charming society of Russians Pushkins, 
Karamzins, and Mescherskys; and all, God knows why, have 
taken affectionately to me. I feel this and the month I have 
passed here so pleasantly, and am so well and hearty, that I 
am quite in low spirits at the thought of leaving.' 

Besides these friends in the neighbourhood of Geneva, 
there lived at that time in the village Baucage, near the 
lake, Tolstoy's friend, the Countess A. A. Tolstoy, who was 
maid of honour to the Grandduchess Marya Nicolayevna, who 
there gave birth to a son, Count Stroganof. It was a very 
great pleasure to Tolstoy to visit them. 

He spent about two months at Clarens and resolved to 



NOTES ON HIS JOURNEY 237 

continue his journey on foot. Having made the acquaintance 
of a Russian family there, he invited one of them, a boy named 
Sasha, of the age of ten, to go up the mountains with him. 
At first they were to have walked to Friburg, crossing the 
gorge Jaman, but, after having crossed it, they changed their 
minds and turned in the direction of the Chateau d'Oex, from 
which they proceeded to Thun by the mail post. 

Among the unpublished manuscripts of Tolstoy are his 
notes of this journey, from which a few descriptions of Swiss 
landscape may be quoted. He first of all went by steamer 
from Clarens to Montreux. 

' \5th May 1857. The weather was clear, the light blue and 
brilliantly dark blue Leman, spotted white and black with 
sails and boats, shone before our eyes almost on three sides 
of us ; behind Geneva, some way from the bright lake, the hot 
atmosphere trembled and darkened ; on the opposite shore the 
green Savoy mountains rose abruptly, with little white houses 
at their base and with jagged rocks, one of which looked like 
an enormous white woman in an ancient costume. To the 
left, near the red vines in the dark-green thicket of fruit trees, 
was distinctly seen Montreux with its graceful church standing 
half-way down the slope, Villeneuve on the Vevey shore, with 
the iron roofs of its houses brightly shining in the midday sun, 
the mysterious cleft of the Vallais with its mountains heaped 
one upon another, the white Col de Chillon over the water 
near Vevey, and the much-belauded little island artificially 
yet beautifully placed in front of Villeneuve. The lake was 
slightly rippled, the sun beat down perpendicularly upon its 
blue surface, and the sails scattered about the lake appeared 
motionless. 

'It is wonderful how, having lived in Clarens two months, 
still each time, when in the morning and still more in the 
evening after dinner, I open the shutters of the window already 
in the shade and look out on the lake and the distant blue 
mountains reflected in it, their beauty blinds me and startles 
me with a thrill. I immediately wish to love and even feel 
the love of others for myself, and regret the past, hope for the 
future, and feel it become a joy to be alive. I desire to live 
long, very long, and the thought of death fills me with a 
childish, poetic awe. Sometimes, sitting alone in the shady 
little garden and gazing, as I constantly do, on these shores 



238 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

and this lake, I even feel, as it were, the physical impression of 
their beauty pouring into my soul through my eyes. 1 

Again, as they climbed up the mountains : 

' Above us the wood birds were pouring out their songs such 
as are not heard on the lake. Here one feels the smell of the 
damp of the forest and of felled pine trees. The walk was so 
pleasant that we were loth to hurry on. Suddenly we were 
struck by a curious delightful spring smell. Sasha ran into 
the wood and gathered some cherry blossom, but it was almost 
scentless. On both sides were seen green trees and shrubs 
without bloom. The sweet overpowering odour kept on in- 
creasing. After we had advanced a hundred yards the shrubs 
opened to the right, and an immense sloping valley, flecked 
with white and green, with a few cottages over it, was dis- 
closed before our eyes. Sasha ran to the meadow to gather 
white narcissus with both hands, and brought me an enormous 
bouquet, with a very strong scent, but, with the love of de- 
struction natural to children, he ran back to trample and tear 
the tender and beautiful young succulent flowers which gave 
him so much pleasure. 1 

At Avants they passed the night. After the ascent Tolstoy 
wrote the following reflections : 

* 16/28 May. What I was told is true the higher you 
ascend the mountains the easier it is to advance. We had 
already been walking more than an hour and neither of us 
felt either the weight of his bags or any fatigue. Although 
we did not yet see the sun, it threw its rays over us on to the 
opposite height, touching on its way a few peaks and pines on 
the horizon. The torrents beneath were all audible where we 
stood, close to us only snow water soaked through the soil, 
and, at a turning of the road, we again saw the Lake Valle 
at an appalling depth beneath us. The base of the Savoy 
mountains was completely blue, like the lake, only darker, the 
summits, lighted by the sun, werej throughout of a pale pink. 
There were more snow-clad peaks, which seemed higher 
and of a more varied shape. Sails and boats like scarcely 
visible spots were seen on the lake. It was a beautiful sight, 
beautiful beyond measure, but this is not Nature, although it 
is something good. I do not like what are called glorious and 
magnificent views somehow they are cold. 

' . . . I like Nature when it surrounds me on all sides, 



NOTES ON HIS JOURNEY 239 

and then unfolds in infinite distance but still when I am 
myself in it. I like it when the warm air is first all about 
me and then recedes in volume into infinite distance; when 
those same tender leaves of grass which I crush as I sit on 
them give their greenness to boundless meadows ; when those 
same leaves which, stirred by the wind, move the shadows 
about my face, give their hue to the distant wood ; when the 
very air you breathe makes the dark blue of the limitless 
sky ; when you are not rejoicing and revelling in inanimate 
Nature alone ; when round about you buzz and dance myriads 
of insects, lady-birds crawl, and birds are pouring out their 
songs. 

' But this is a bare, cold, desolate, grey little plateau, and 
somewhere there, something veiled with the mist of distance. 
But this something is so far off* that I do not feel the chief 
delight of Nature do not feel myself a part of this infinite 
and beautiful distance. I have nothing to do with this 
distance. 1 

Continuing his journey, Tolstoy in July reached Lucerne, 
from which he wrote to his aunt : 

' LUCERNE, 8th July. 

'I think I have told you, dear Aunt, that I have left 
Clarens with the intention of undertaking rather a long 
journey through the north of Switzerland, along the Rhine, 
and from Holland to England. From there I intend again 
passing through France and Paris, and in August making 
a short stay at Rome and Naples. If I can stand the sea 
crossings which I shall encounter in going from the Hague 
to London, I think of returning by the Mediterranean, 
Constantinople, the Black Sea, and Odessa. But all these 
are plans which I shall perhaps not carry out owing to my 
changeable disposition, with which you, my dear Aunt, justly 
reproach me. I have arrived at Lucerne. It is a town in 
the north of Switzerland, not far from the Rhine, and I am 
already postponing my departure, so as to remain a few days 
in this delicious little town. ... I am again all alone, and 
I will confess to you that very often this solitude is painful 
to me, as the acquaintances one makes in hotels and trains are 
not a resource ; yet this isolation has at least the advantage of 
prompting me to work. I am working a little, but it advances 
badly, as it usually does in summer.' 



240 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

During his stay at Lucerne he had an adventure, which 
he describes in The Memoirs of Prince Nekhludof. The tale 
referred to the year 1857, and is therefore connected with 
his own journey. 

In this tale, as we know, the lovely description of Swiss 
Nature is interrupted by expressions of indignation at the way 
in which its harmony is spoiled in order to please the well-to- 
do tourists, chiefly English. 

What strikes him especially is the contrast between the dull 
respectability of the table d'hote and the wild, but soft and 
exhilarating beauty of the lake. The feeling is intensified in 
him when he hears the song of a street singer with a harp. 
As if by magic, this song attracts general attention, and 
strikes a chord in his soul to which he is unable to give 
tone. 

' All the confused and involuntary impressions of life sud- 
denly received meaning and charm for me, as though a fresh 
and fragrant flower had bloomed in my soul. Instead of the 
fatigue, distraction and indifference for everything in the 
world which I had felt but a minute before, I suddenly was 
conscious of a need of love, a fulness of hope and a joy of life, 
which I could not account for. " What is there to wish, what 
to desire ? " I uttered involuntarily. " Here it is you are on 
all sides surrounded by beauty and poetry. Inhale it in broad, 
full draughts with all the strength you have ! Enjoy yourself ! 
What else do you require? All is yours, all the bliss."" 11 

The same dull, respectable English surround this beautiful 
flower of poetry like a black frame. 

The singer finished, and held out his hat beneath the 
windows of a grand hotel, on the veranda of which stood a 
crowd of smartly dressed listeners, who none of them gave him 
anything. 

Amazed at the stony indifference of these people, Tolstoy 
ran after the musician, and invited him to the hotel to partake 
of a bottle of wine. This defiant action created a sensation in 
the hotel, but that was precisely what he wanted. His object 
was to wound those self-satisfied tourists ; he wanted to express 
his indignation at their heartlessness. However, the sensation 
passed away, and was almost forgotten, leaving the author with 
a bitter feeling against the injustice of men and their in- 
1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iii. pp. 237-238. 



INCIDENT WITH A MUSICIAN 241 

capacity to understand the highest happiness, the simple, 
humane, and at the same time sympathetic attitude towards 
nature. 

' How could you, children of a free, humane nation, you 
Christians, you, simply men, even, answer with coldness and 
ridicule to a pure enjoyment afforded you by an unfortunate 
mendicant ? But no ; there are refuges for beggars in your 
country. There are no beggars, there must not be, and there 
must not be the feeling of compassion upon which beggars 
depend. 

' But he laboured, gave you pleasure ; he implored you to 
give him something of your superabundance for his labour, 
which you made use of, and then you looked down at him with 
a cold smile from your high, shining palaces, as at a curiosity, 
and among hundreds of you, happy and rich people, there was 
not found one man or woman to throw anything to him ! Put 
to shame, he walked away from you and the senseless crowd 
pursued and insulted with its laughter, not you, but him, 
because you are cold, cruel, and dishonest ; because you stole 
enjoyment from him, which he had afforded you, they offended 
him. 

' On the 7th of July 1857, an itinerant singer for half-an-hour 
sang songs and played the guitar in Lucerne in front of the 
Schweizerhof, where the richest people stop. About one hundred 
persons listened to him. The singer three times asked att to give 
him something. Not one person gave him anything, and a great 
many laughed at him. 

'This is not fiction but a positive fact, which those who 
wish may find out from the permanent inmates of the Schwei- 
zerhof, and by looking up in the newspapers who the foreigners 
were who on the 7th of July stopped at the Schweizerhof. 

' This is an occurrence which the historians of our time ought 
to note down with fiery, indelible letters. 1 a 

An outcry of astonishment broke forth from his heart in the 
presence of the riddle of the tangled chain of men's relations 
to each other and their petty feelings as compared with the 
harmonious grandeur of sovereign nature. The author ex- 
pressed his feelings in a pathetic artistic form and thus finished 
his tale : 

' What an unfortunate, miserable being is man with his need 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iii. pp. 255-256. 

VOL. I. Q 



242 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

of positive solutions, cast into this eternally moving, endless 
ocean of good and evil, of facts, of reflections and contra- 
dictions ! Men have been struggling and labouring for ages to 
put the good all on one side, and the evil on the other. Ages 
pass, and no matter what the unprejudiced mind may have 
added to the scales of good and evil, there is always the same 
equilibrium, and on each side there is just as much good as evil. 

' If man could only learn not to judge, not to conclude 
sharply and positively, and not to give answers to questions 
put before him only that they might always remain questions ! 
If he only understood that every idea is both just and false! 
False on account of its one-sidedness, on account of the im- 
possibility of man's embracing the whole truth ; and just as 
an expression of one side of human tendencies. They have 
made subdivisions for themselves in this eternally moving, 
endless, endlessly mixed chaos of good and evil; they have 
drawn imaginary lines on this sea, and now they are waiting 
for this sea to be parted asunder, as though there were not 
millions of other subdivisions from an entirely different point 
of view in another plane. It is true these new subdivisions 
are worked out by the ages, but millions of these ages have 
passed and will pass yet. 

' Civilisation is good, barbarism evil ; freedom is good, en- 
slavement evil. It is this imaginary knowledge which destroys 
the instinctive, most blissful primitive demands of good in 
human nature. And who will define to me what freedom is, 
what despotism, what civilisation, what barbarism ? And 
where are the limits of the one and of the other? In whose 
soul is this measure of good and evil so imperturbable that he 
can measure with it this fleeting medley of facts? Whose 
mind is so large as to embrace and weigh all the facts even of 
the immovable past? And who has seen a condition such 
that good and evil did not exist side by side in it ? And how 
do I know but what I see more of the one than of the other 
only because I do not stand in the proper place ? And who is 
able so completely to tear his mind away from life, even for 
a moment, as to take an independent bird's-eye view of it? 

' There is one, but one sinless leader, the Universal Spirit, 
who penetrates us all as he does one and each separately, who 
imparts to each the tendency toward that which is right; 
that same Spirit, who orders the tree to grow toward the sun, 



A PROFESSION OF FAITH 243 

orders the flower to cast seeds in the autumn, and orders us to 
hold together unconsciously. 

* This one, sinless, blissful voice is drowned by the boisterous 
hurry of growing civilisation. Who is the greater man and 
the greater barbarian the lord, who upon seeing the singer's 
soiled garment, angrily rushed away from the table, who did 
not give him for his labour one-millionth of his worldly goods, 
and who now, well-fed and sitting in a lighted, comfortable 
room, calmly judges of the affairs of China, finding all the 
murders committed there justified, or the little singer, who, 
risking imprisonment, with a franc in his pocket, has for 
twenty years harmlessly wandered through mountains and 
valleys, bringing consolation to people with his singing, who 
has been insulted, who to-day was almost kicked out, and who 
then, tired, hungry, humiliated, went away to sleep somewhere 
on rotting straw ? 

' Just then I heard in the town, amid the dead silence of the 
night, far, far away, the guitar and the voice of the little man. 

* No, I involuntarily said to myself, you have no right to pity 
him and to be indignant at the lord's well-being. Who has 
weighed the internal happiness which lies in the soul of each of 
these men ? He is sitting somewhere on a dirty threshold, 
looking into the gleaming, moonlit heaven, and joyfully singing 
in the soft, fragrant night ; in his heart there is no reproach, 
no malice, no regret. And who knows what is going on now in 
the souls of all these people, behind these rich, high walls ? 
Who knows whether there is in all of them as much careless, 
humble joy of life and harmony with the world as lives in the 
soul of this little man ? 

'Endless is the mercy and all-wisdom of Him who has per- 
mitted and has commanded all these contradictions to exist. 
Only to you, insignificant worm, who are boldly, unlawfully 
trying to penetrate His laws, His intentions, only to you do 
they appear as contradictions. He looks calmly down from His 
bright, immeasurable height and enjoys the endless harmony in 
which you all with your contradictions are endlessly moving. 
In your pride you thought you could tear yourself away from 
the universal law. No, even you, with your petty little indig- 
nation at the waiters, even you have responded to the har- 
monious necessity of the endless and the eternal.' 1 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iii. pp. 259-260. 



From Lucerne Tolstoy continued his journey up the Rhine, 
Schaffhausen, Baden, Stuttgart, Frankfort, and Berlin. 

On August 8 he was in Stettin, and therefrom arrived in 
St. Petersburg by boat, August 11. (July 30, O. S.) 

He remained in St. Petersburg a week, visited the circle of 
The Contemporary, called on Nekrassof and read to him his 
tale Lucerne, which was printed in the September number of 
The Contemporary, in 1857. On August 6 he left for Moscow, 
and then went straight on to Tula. 

Soon after his arrival at Yasnaya Polyana he plunged into 
business in connection with his estate. 

In his diary of that period the following entry is 
found : 

' This is how, during my journey, I divided my day : I put, 
first of all, literary work, then family duties, then the estates ; 
but the estates I must leave in the hands of the steward as 
much as possible ; but I must educate and improve him, and I 
must only spend two thousand roubles, the rest should be used 
in the interests of the peasants. My great stumbling-block is 
the vanity of Liberalism. One should live for oneself, and a 
good deed a day is sufficient.' 

A little later he wrote : 

'Self-abnegation does not consist in saying, "Take from me 
what you like ; " but in labouring and thinking in concert with 
others, so as to give one's self to them. 1 

August he devoted to reading, and studied two remarkable 
subjects, Homer's Iliad and the Gospels. Both produced a 
strong impression upon him. 

* I have finished reading the inexpressibly beautiful con- 
clusion of the Iliad." 1 Thus he expresses himself, and the 
beauty of both these subjects makes him regret that there is 
no connection between them. ' How could Homer fail to know 
that the only good is love ? ' he exclaims, mentally comparing 
these two books. And he himself answers : ' He knew of no 
revelation there is no better explanation.' 

In the middle of October Tolstoy moved to Moscow, together 
with his eldest brother Nicolay and his sister Marie. His 
diary shows that he arrived there on the 17th. On October 
the 23rd he left that city for St. Petersburg, intending to stay 
there a few days. 

His tale Lucerne (Memoirs of Prince Nekhludof), printed, as 



RETURN TO MOSCOW 245 

above mentioned, in The Contemporary, was not appreciated by 
the critics, and therefore made no impression. 

The silence of the critics gives striking and obvious proof 
how narrow-minded, short-sighted, and incapable they were. 
On the whole, from 1857 up to 1861, according to the opinion 
of Zelinsky, who published a collection of critical essays on 
Tolstoy, there were no criticisms on Tolstoy's works, in spite 
of the fact that during that time he printed such remarkable 
works as Youth, Lucerne, Albert, Three Deaths, and Family 
Happiness. 

Tolstoy was aware of the indifference of the critics, and 
after his return from St. Petersburg in October 1857 he wrote 
in his diary : 

' St. Petersburg at first grieved, and then put me right. My 
reputation has fallen or just lingers, and I have been much 
grieved inwardly ; but now I am at peace. I know that I have 
got something to say, and the power of saying it strongly ; as 
for the rest, the public may say what it likes. But it is necessary 
to work conscientiously, to lay out all one's power, then . . . 
let them spit on the altar.' 

Tolstoy returned to Moscow on October 30. During his 
stay there he very often saw Fet, who, in his Reminiscences, 
thus described his visits : 

* One evening, while we were taking tea, Tolstoy appeared 
quite unexpectedly and informed us that they, the Tolstoys, 
i.e. his elder brother Nicolay and his sister Countess Marie, 
had all three settled in the furnished rooms of Verighin, in the 
Piatnitsky Street. Before long we all became intimate. 

* I don't know how the Tolstoy brothers, Nicolay and Lyof, 
became acquainted with S. Gromeka ; it occurred probably in 
our house. All three very soon became great friends, being all 
of them enthusiastic sportsmen. ' l 

The Moscow life of Tolstoy at this period (the end of the 
fifties) had no remarkable feature. At this time his physical 
nature was in full glow and strength, and drew him in the 
direction of ambitious enterprises, amusements, and society life 
in general. 

Fet relates that sometimes in the evening they had concerts 
in which Countess Marie N. Tolstoy joined, herself a pianoforte- 
player and a lover of music. Sometimes she would arrive 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, 1848-1889, Part I. p. 214. 



246 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

accompanied by Lyof and Nicolay, sometimes by the latter 
only, who would say 

4 Lyof has put on his evening suit again and gone to a ball/ 1 

Fet gives the following account of these recreations : 

' I. P. Borisof had known Tolstoy in the Caucasus, and being 
himself far superior to the average man, he could not, from 
their first meeting in our house, resist the influence of that 
giant. But at that time Tolstoy's love for gaiety was more 
striking, and when he saw him going out for a walk in his new 
coat, with grey beaver collar, his dark curly hair showing under 
a fashionable hat worn on one side, with a smart cane in hand, 
Borisof quoted these words from a popular song : " He leans 
on his stick, and he boasts that it is made of hazel. 11 

' Gymnastics were very popular with the fashionable young 
people at that time, the favourite exercise being that of jump- 
ing over a wooden horse. 

' If any one desired to get hold of Tolstoy between one and 
two in the afternoon, he had to go to the gymnasium hall at 
the Great Dmitrovka. It was interesting to watch how 
Tolstoy, in his tights, eagerly tried to jump over the horse 
without catching the leather cone stuffed with wool, and 
placed on the horse's back. No wonder that the active, 
energetic nature of a young man of twenty-nine demanded 
such violent exercise, but it was strange to see next to him 
old men with bald heads and protruding stomachs. One 
young man would wait for his turn, and every time run and 
touch the back of the horse with his chest, then quietly go 
aside, giving way to the next one.' 2 

In the beginning of January 1858 Countess Alexandra 
Andreyevna Tolstoy, a friend of Tolstoy in his youth, paid a 
visit to Moscow. He saw her off to Klin by the Nicolayevsky 
railway, and then went to stay at the house of the Princess 
Volkonsky, whose name was introduced in the chapter of 
Tolstoy's forefathers on his mother's side. This Princess 
Volkonsky was the cousin of Tolstoy's mother; she used to 
pay long occasional visits at Yasnaya Polyana, and she was 
able to tell Tolstoy many things of great interest about his 
father and mother. 

Tolstoy cherished a most pleasant remembrance of this 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, 1848-1889, Part I. p. 216. 

2 Ibid. 



AT YASNAYA POLYANA 247 

visit ; it was during his stay that he wrote the tale Three 
Deaths. 

The idea of death began seriously to absorb his attention, 
and, as usual, his desire was to make the solution of the great 
problem consist in a harmony of the human soul with nature. 
Any divergence from this solution involves unutterable suffer- 
ing, its attainment, eternal good ; ' the sting ' of death therefore 
then disappears. 

He returned to Yasnaya Polyana in February. Then he 
went again to Moscow, and in March to St. Petersburg for a 
fortnight. In April he again returned to Yasnaya Polyana, 
and remained there the whole summer. During this period 
Tolstoy devoted much of his time to music, and in Moscow, in 
association with Botkin, Perfilyef, Mortier, and others, founded 
a Musical Association. Madame Kareyevsky lent her hall for 
the concerts got up by this association, which eventually 
resolved itself into the Conservatoire of Moscow. In the same 
year, while in Moscow, Tolstoy became very intimate with the 
family of S. T. Aksakof the elder. 

Springtime generally exhilarated Tolstoy. The influx of 
energy which he experienced is well described in a letter to 
his aunt, A. A. Tolstoy, written in 1858. 

' Auntie, it is spring. . . . For good people it is very good 
to be alive on earth ; even for such as me it is sometimes good. 
In nature, in the air, in everything hope, future, and exquisite 
future . . . sometimes one is mistaken and thinks that it is 
not only for nature that a future and happiness wait, but also 
for oneself, and then one feels happy. I am now in such a 
state, and with the egotism peculiar to me I hasten to write 
to you about things interesting only to myself. I very well 
know when I bethink myself that I am an old frozen-out 
potato, boiled with sauce into the bargain ; but spring so acts 
upon me that I sometimes catch myself in the full swing of 
visions that I am a plant which, together with others, has only 
just opened, and will peacefully, simply, and joyously grow in 
God's world. Accordingly at these times there takes place 
such an inner elaboration a purifying and an ordering of 
which no one who has not experienced this feeling can form 
any idea. All the old away ! All worldly conventionalities, 
all laziness, all egotism, all vices, all confused, indefinite attach- 
ments, all regrets, even repentance all this, away ! . . . give 



248 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

place to a wonderful little flower which is budding and growing 
along with spring . . .' and so on. 

This letter is rather long but very interesting. It would, in 
fact, be interesting for its close alone, at which Tolstoy makes 
the following request: 

* Good-bye, dear Auntie, do not be angry with me for this 
nonsense, and answer me with wise words imbued with kind- 
ness and Christian kindness. I have long ago wished to write 
to you that it is more convenient for you to write in French, and 
for me feminine thought is more comprehensible in French.' 

During this spring Fet and his wife, while on their way 
through Moscow to their country abode, paid a visit to Tolstoy 
in Yasnaya Polyana. 

In his Reminiscences Fet thus described this visit, giving at 
the same time an interesting notice of Tolstoy's aunt, Tatiana 
Alexandrovna Yergolsky : 

' Having bought a warm and comfortable kibitka l covered 
with matting, we started, in company with Mariushka (idealised 
by Tolstoy in his Family Happiness), by mail post for Mtsensk. 
Nobody dreamt of a railway at that time; as to the bare 
telegraph-posts along the roads, people said the wire would 
be first attached, and after that freedom for the serfs will be 
sent down the wire from St. Petersburg. By this time we 
were on such good terms with Tolstoy that it would have been 
a great deprivation to us not to call on him and stay for a 
day in Yasnaya Polyana to rest a little. There we were in- 
troduced to the charming old lady, Tolstoy's aunt, Tatiana 
Alexandrovna Yergolsky, who received us with that old- 
fashioned hospitality which at once makes the entrance under 
a new roof so pleasant. Tatiana Alexandrovna was not ab- 
sorbed in the tilings of the past, but fully shared the life of 
the present. 

* She mentioned that " Seryozhenka Tolstoy had gone to his 
house at Pirogovo, and Nicolenka might yet stay on for a 
while in Moscow with Mashenka, but Lyovochka's friend D., 
she said, came in the other day and complained of his wife's 
neuralgia." In any difficulties she always used to consult 
Lyovochka, and was quite satisfied with his explanations. 
Thus, driving in the autumn with him to Tula, looking out 
of the carriage window, she suddenly asked, " Mon cher Leon, 

1 Kirghiz tent. 



VISIT FROM THE FETS 249 

how is it people write their letters by telegraph ? " " I had," 
said Tolstoy, " to explain as simply as possible the action of 
a telegraph instrument similarly arranged at both ends of the 
wire, and as I was concluding I heard her say, " Oui, out, je 
comprends, mon cher" 

* Having kept her eyes fixed on the wire for more than 
half-an-hour, she at last asked, " Mon cher Leon, how can 
this be ? For a whole half-hour I have not seen a single letter 
pass along the telegraph ? " 

' Sometimes,'' relates Tolstoy, ' we used to sit at home with 
my aunt for a whole month without seeing any one, and 
suddenly while serving the soup she would begin, "But do 
you know, dear Leo, they say ."' 

'The long autumn and winter evenings have remained for 
me as a wonderful recollection. To these evenings I owe my 
best thoughts, the best impulses of my soul. I sit in an arm- 
chair reading, thinking, and at times listening to her conversa- 
tion with Natalya Petrovna, or Dunechka the maid, which was 
always good and kind ; I exchange a few words with her and 
again sit and read and think. This wonderful arm-chair still 
stands in my home, though it is not what it was, and another 
couch on which slept the kind old woman Natalya Petrovna, 
who lived with her, not for her sake, but because she had 
nowhere else to live. Between the windows under the looking- 
glass was her small writing-table, with little china jars and a 
small vase, in which were held the sweets, cakes, and dates, to 
which she treated me. By the window two arm-chairs, and to 
the right of the door a comfortable embroidered arm-chair, on 
which she liked me to sit of an evening. 1 

' The chief delight of this life was the absence of material 
worry, the affectionate terms on which we all were, in the 
strong mutual attachment free from all doubt and misgiving 
by which close kinsfolk and household were bound together, 
and the consciousness of the flight of time. 

* Indeed, I was truly happy when seated in that arm-chair. 
After leading a bad life at Tula, playing cards with the neigh- 
bours, after the gipsy singers, as well as my shooting and 
hunting silly vanity I would return home, go to her (my 
aunt) by old habit and we would kiss each other's hands, I 

1 ' Then one could say, " Wer darauf sitzt, der ist gliicUicH, und der Olucldiche 
bin ich " (" Whoever sits thereon is happy, and I am the happy one ").' 



250 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

her dear energetic hand ; she my impure, vicious hand ; and 
having greeted each one in French, also by old habit, one 
would exchange a joke with Natalya Petrovna and seat one's 
self in the cosy arm-chair. She (my aunt) knows all I have 
been doing, regrets it, but never reproaches me, always treats 
me with the same love and affection. Seated in my arm-chair, 
I read and meditate, and I listen to her conversation with 
Natalya Petrovna. They either recall old times, or play at 
" Patience," or make prognostics, or joke about something, and 
both old ladies laugh especially auntie, with her dear, childlike 
laugh, which I can hear at this moment. I tell them how the 
wife of an acquaintance has been unfaithful to her husband, 
adding that the husband must have been glad to have got rid 
of her. And suddenly auntie, who has just been talking with 
Natalya Petrovna about an excresence of wax droppings on a 
candle foreshadowing a guest, raises her eyebrows and says, as a 
thing long settled in her soul, that a husband should not feel 
thus, because he would quite ruin his wife. Then she tells me 
about a drama amongst the servants, of which Dunechka has 
told her. Then she reads out a letter from my sister Mashenka, 
whom she loves, if not more, at least as much as myself, and 
speaks about her husband, her own nephew, without condemna- 
tion, yet grieving over the suffering he has caused Mashenka. 
Then I again read, and she examines her little collection of 
sundries all souvenirs. 

'But the chief feature of her life which involuntarily in- 
sinuated itself into me was her wonderful, universal kindness 
to every one without exception. I try to recall any one case 
when she got angry, or said a rough word, or condemned any- 
body, and I am unable to do so. I cannot call to mind one 
such word during thirty years. She spoke well of another aunt 
of ours who had cruelly hurt her feelings by taking us away 
from her ; and she did not condemn my sister's husband who 
had acted so badly. As to what her goodness was to the 
servants, it goes without saying. She grew up with the know- 
ledge that there are masters and servants, but she used her 
own position only to serve others. She never reproached me 
directly for my bad life, although she was pained at it. Neither 
did she reproach my brother Sergey, whom she also warmly 
loved, when he formed a connection with a gipsy girl. The 
only indication of anxiety which she gave on occasions when 



FET'S REMINISCENCES 251 

he was very late in coming home, was that she used to say, 
" What's the matter with our Sergey ? " Instead of Seryozha, 
merely Sergey. She never in words taught how one should 
live ; she never moralised. All her moral work was worked out 
within her, and externally appeared only deeds indeed not 
deeds there were none of these, but all her peaceful, humble, 
submissive life of love, not an agitated self-admiring passion, 
but a quiet, unobtrusive love. 

' She fulfilled the inner work of love, and therefore she had 
no cause to hurry anywhere. And these two features, love and 
repose, imperceptibly attracted one into her society, and gave a 
special delight to intimacy with her. 

' And, as I know no case when she hurt any one, so also I 
know no one who did not love her. She never spoke about her- 
self; never about religion, as to what one should believe, or what 
she herself believed and prayed for. She believed all, save that 
she repudiated one single dogma that of eternal punishment. 
" Dieu, qui est la bonte meme, ne pent pas voukrir nos souffrances? 

* Except at Te Deums and Requiems I never saw her pray. 
Only through a special affability with which she sometimes met 
me when I, occasionally late at night, after having said good- 
bye, returned to her, did I guess that I had interrupted her 
prayer. " Come in, come in ! " she used to say. " And I had 
just been saying to Natalya Petrovna that Nicolas would look 
in again.' 1 She often called me by my father's name, and this 
was specially pleasant to me, as it showed that her conceptions 
of me and of my father were blended in one love of both. At 
this late time of the evening she was already in her nightdress, 
with a shawl thrown over her shoulders, with little spindle- 
like legs, in her slippers Natalya Petrovna was in a similar 
negligb. 

' " Sit down, sit down," she used to say when she saw that 
I could not sleep, or was suffering from solitude. And the 
memory of these irregular late sittings-up are especially dear 
to me. It often happened that Natalya Petrovna, or else 
myself, would say something funny, and she would laugh good- 
naturedly, and immediately Natalya Petrovna would laugh too, 
and both old ladies would laugh for a long time, themselves 
not knowing at what, but like children, merely because they 
loved every one and felt happy. 

' It was not only the love for me which was joyous. The 



252 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

atmosphere was joyous, an atmosphere of love to all present, 
absent, living and dead, and even to animals. 

' I will, if I have occasion to dig up my past life, say a good 
deal more about her. Now I will mention only the attitude of 
the poor, of the peasants of Yasnaya Polyana towards her, as 
manifested at her funeral ; when we carried her through the 
village there was not one homestead amongst the sixty from 
which the dwellers did not come out and demand a halt and a 
requiem. " She was a good lady, she did no one any harm," 
said all. And for this she was loved, and greatly loved. 
Laotze says that things are valuable through what is absent 
from them. So also with life the best feature it can have is 
that it should not contain evil. In the life of my aunt Tatiana 
Alexandrovna there was no evil. This is easy to say, but the 
character is difficult to exemplify. And I have known only 
one individual who exemplified it. 

' She died quietly, gradually falling asleep, and died as she 
wished to die, not in the room where she lived, so as not to 
sadden it for us. 

' In her last moments she recognised scarcely any one. Me 
she always recognised, smiling, and her face glowing like a 
lamp when the button is pressed, and sometimes she moved her 
lips endeavouring to pronounce the name " Nicholas," thus, 
just before her death, quite inseparably uniting me with the 
one she had loved all her life. 

' And it was to her to her that I refused that little joy 
which dates and chocolates afforded her, and that not so much 
on her own account as for the pleasure she took in treating me 
to them and refused her the possibility of giving a little 
money to those who asked from her. I cannot recall this 
without an acute pang of conscience. Dear, dear Auntie, 
pardon me. " Si jeunesse savait, si viellesse pouvait " not in 
regard of the welfare which one has missed for one's self in 
youth, but of the welfare one has not given of the evil one 
has done to those that are no more. 1 l 

The scanty but valuable information which Tolstoy gives 
about the servants who surrounded him during his childhood 
is exceedingly interesting. This information may serve as a 
supplement to what is described in his published story Child- 
hood. We find this description in his Reminiscences as well. 
1 From Tolstoy's MS. Memoirs. 



FET'S REMINISCENCES 253 

Though Tolstoy did not spend the whole of the summer 
1858 in Yasnaya Polyana, being often away in Moscow, yet 
peasant life interested him more and more, and he made an 
effort to get in touch with ' common ' people. 

In his Reminiscences Fet quotes the words of Tolstoy's 
brother Nicolay, full of fine humour concerning those efforts : 

* In answer to our inquiries the Count gave with undis- 
guised delight the following account of his beloved brother : 
" Lyovochka," he said, " tries hard to become better acquainted 
with the life of the peasant, and his way of managing his land, 
of which we all know very little. However, I really cannot 
tell how far the acquaintance will go. Lyovochka desires to 
take in all, not to miss anything, not even gymnastics. That 
is why there is a bar placed under the window of his study. 
To be sure, setting aside prejudices with which he is so much 
at war, he is right; the gymnastics don't interfere with his 
estate affairs, but his bailiff views the matter somewhat 
differently. ' I would come,' he said, ' for orders, but the 
master had got hold of a perch with one knee, and was hang- 
ing in his red tights with his head downwards swinging, his 
hair falling down dishevelled, and his red face bursting. I did 
not know whether to listen to his orders or to stand and 
wonder at him.' Lyovochka was pleased to see how Yufan 
would spread wide his arms when he was ploughing. And now 
Yufan Became the emblem of the country's power, something 
like Mikula Selyaninovich. Spreading out his elbows, he too 
stuck to the plough and tried to imitate Yufan." ' 

In May of the same year Tolstoy wrote to Fet from Yasnaya 
Polyana : 

* DEAREST OLD FELLOW, I am writing two words only to 
say that I embrace you with all my might, that I have received 
your letter, that I kiss Maria Petrovna's hands, send a greet- 
ing to all yours. Auntie is very thankful for your remember- 
ing her, and greets you; and so does my sister. What a 
splendid spring it has been and is still. In my solitude I have 
enjoyed it immensely. My brother Nicolas must be at Nikol- 
skoye ; catch him there and do not let him go. This month I 
intend coming to see you. Turgenef has gone to Winzig until 
August to treat himself. The deuce take him ! I am tired of 
loving him. He will not cure himself, but us he will deprive 



254 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

of his company. With this good-bye, dear friend. If before 
my arrival you will write no verses, I will manage to squeeze 
them out of you. Yours, COUNT L. TOLSTOY. 

1 What a Whitsuntide we had yesterday ! What a service 
at church, with fading wild-cherry blossom, white hair, bright 
red cretonne, and a hot sun ! ' 

And then another: 

4 Hallo, old man ! Hallo ! First, you yourself give no sign 
of life, when it is spring and you know that we are thinking of 
you, and that I am chained, like Prometheus, to a rock, and 
nevertheless thirst to see and hear you. You should either 
come or write, decidedly. Secondly, you have appropriated 
my brother, and a very good one. The chief culprit, I think, 
is Maria Petrovna, to whom I send my best greetings, and 
whom I beg to return my own brother. Joking apart, he sent 
to say he was coming back next week. And Druzhinin will 
also be here, so do come too, dear old fellow.'* 

After discharging his summer duties at the estate, Tolstoy 
would take his share in works of public interest. 

A meeting of noblemen of the Tula Province was held in 
the autumn of 1858, from September 1 to September 4, for 
the election of representatives to the Tula Committee for 
the Improvement of the Status of the Peasantry. At that 
meeting, in virtue of the statute regulating elections, by 
which the nobles have a right to express their opinion on 
the wants of their province and on provincial affairs gener- 
ally, a hundred and five noblemen handed over to the Tula 
Marshal of nobility the following resolution, to be presented 
to the Provincial Committee : 

' Having in view the improvement of the status of the 
peasant, the security of the landowner's position in respect 
of his property and the safety of both peasants and land- 
owners, we the undersigned are of opinion that the peasants 
ought to be liberated and a certain amount of land allotted 
to them and their descendants, and that the landowners should 
be compensated fully and fairly in money by means of some 
financial operation which will not result in compulsory rela- 
tions between landowner and peasant; all such relations the 
nobility consider should be abolished/ (There follow the 



FET'S REMINISCENCES 255 

signatures of a hundred and five noblemen of Tula Province ; 
amongst them was of course the name of the Krapovna land- 
owner, Count L. N. Tolstoy.) l 

We must return to Fet's Reminiscences. 

* Since my wife and I left Moscow in the autumn of 1 858, 
Tolstoy contrived, as may be seen from the following letter 
to me forwarded from Novosyolki to Moscow, to go out 
hunting with Borisof, who lent Tolstoy his whipper-in, 
together with a horse and dogs. 

' October 24th he wrote from Moscow : 

' " DEAREST OLD CHAP, FETINKA, Indeed you are a dear fellow, 
and I love you dreadfully. That's all. To write stories is silly, 
a shame. To write verses . . . well, you may do so ; but to 
love a good man is very pleasant. And yet perhaps against 
my will and consciousness, it is not myself but an unripe 
story working in me, that makes me love. I sometimes think 
so. However one may avoid it, still from time to time 
between manure and this Kapoemon, one finds oneself writing 
a story. I am glad, however, that I have not yet allowed 
myself to write, and will not. Thank you most heartily for 
your trouble about the veterinary, &c. I have found the 
Tula one, and he has begun the treatment. What will come 
of it I don't know. And the deuce take them all. Druzhinin 
requests me to write a story for him like a friend. And I 
really intend to compose one. I will compose such a one 
that there will be nothing in it: The Shah of Persia is 
smoking a pipe, and I love you. That will be a poser. 
Joking apart, how is your * Hafiz ' ? Whatever may be 
said, the height of wisdom and firmness for me is to rejoice 
at other people's writing, but not to let one's own out into 
the world in an ugly garb, but to consume it oneself with 
one's daily bread. Yet sometimes one suddenly feels such 
a desire to be a great man, and so annoyed that hitherto 
this has not been realised. One even hurries to get up, or 
finish one's dinner in order to begin. One couldn't express 
all one's frivolous thoughts, but it is pleasant to communicate 
at least one to such a dear old fellow as you are, who lives 
entirely in such frivolity ; send me one of the longest pieces 
of poetry by ' Hafiz ' you have translated, me faire venir Teau 

1 The. Contemporary, 1858, vol. Ixxii. p. 300. 



256 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

a la bouche, and I will send you a sample of wheat. Sport 
has bored me to death. The weather is excellent, but I do 
not go hunting alone. 1 ' ' 

In December 1858, during a hunting expedition, Tolstoy 
met with an accident which nearly cost him his life. Fet 
describes it in this way : 

'Gromeka wrote on December 15, 1858: 

' " As you desired me, I hasten to inform you, dear Afanasy 
Afanasyevich, that one of these days, about the 18th or 
20th, I mean to go out bear hunting. Tell Tolstoy that I 
have bought a she-bear with two young ones, and that if he 
cares to take part in the hunt, he must come to Volochok 
about the 18th or 19th, straight on to my place, without 
ceremony, and that I will meet him with open arms, and a 
room will be ready for him. If he is not coming, please let 
me know at once. 

' " I think the hunt will certainly take place on the 19th. 
It will be best, therefore, indeed necessary, to come on 
the 18th. 

'"If Tolstoy would like to put it off to the 21st, then 
let me know; it would be impossible to wait longer." 

'For greater inducement the well-known leader in bear 
hunts, Ostashkof, paid Tolstoy a visit. On his appearance 
in the hunting-field, the scene can only be compared to the 
plunging of a red-hot iron into cold water. Wild excitement 
and uproar followed. Seeing that each bear-hunter must 
possess two guns, Tolstoy borrowed my German double- 
barrelled gun intended for small shot. At the appointed 
day our hunter, Lyof Nicolay, started for the Nicolayevsky 
railway station. I will try to repeat correctly all I heard 
from Tolstoy and his companions in the bear hunt. 

' When the hunters, each carrying two loaded guns, took 
their places along the meadow running through the wood, 
which looked like a chess-board from its openings, they were 
advised to tread the deep snow as wide as possible round 
them, so as to get more freedom of movement. But Tolstoy 
remained at his post in snow almost up to his waist, de- 
claring that there was no need to tread the snow at all, 
as they were going to shoot the bear and not to fight her. 
Accordingly the Count placed one of the guns against the 



THE BEAR HUNT 257 

trunk of a tree, so that when he had fired off the two charges 
of his gun he could throw it away and, holding out his hand, 
catch mine. Presently the she-bear was startled out of her 
den by Ostashkof, and made her appearance. She rushed 
out down the valley along which the hunters were placed 
in a direction at right angles to it, by one of the openings. 
This alley opened on to the spot where was standing the 
hunter nearest to Tolstoy, so that the latter could not even 
see the approach of the bear. But she, probably scenting 
the hunter she was after all the time, swiftly rushed to the 
cross opening and suddenly appeared at a very short distance 
from Tolstoy and quickly flew at him. Tolstoy deliberately 
aimed and pulled the trigger, but probably missed, for 
in the cloud of smoke he saw something huge approaching. 
He gave another shot almost face to face, and the bullet hit 
the bear's jaw, where it stuck between the teeth. The Count 
could not move aside, the untrodden snow giving him no 
room, and he had no time to snatch my gun, for he was 
knocked down and fell with his face in the snow. At a run 
the bear crossed over him. "There, 11 thought the Count, 
"all is over with me. I missed now, and shall have no 
time to shoot at her again ! " 

'At this moment he saw something dark over his head. 
It was the she-bear, who had instantly returned, and who 
tried to bite the head of the hunter who had wounded her. 
Lying with his face downwards in the thick snow, Tolstoy 
could only offer passive resistance, trying as much as he 
could to draw his head between his shoulders, and expose 
his thick fur cap to the beast's mouth. Perhaps in con- 
sequence of these instinctive manoeuvres, the bear, being 
twice unsuccessful, managed to give only one considerable 
bite, with her upper teeth tearing the cheek under his left 
eye, and with the lower the whole skin of the left part of 
his forehead. At that moment Ostashkof arrived near, and, 
running up with his small switch in his hand, he approached 
the bear with his usual " Where are you getting to ? Where 
are you getting to ? " At the sound of this exclamation the 
bear ran away as quickly as she could. It seems the next 
day she was surrounded and killed. 

' The first words of Tolstoy, when he got up with the skin 
hanging down his face, which had to be bandaged with hand- 

VOL. I. E 



258 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

kerchiefs on the spot, were, " What will Fet say ? " I am proud 
of it still.' J 

Having got over the shock, Tolstoy hastened to inform his 
aunt of the incident, and, in his letter of December 25th, thus 
described what had happened : 

' First of all I congratulate you, secondly I am afraid that 
news of an adventure I have had may in some way reach you in 
an exaggerated form, and therefore I make haste to inform you 
of it myself. 

4 1 have been hunting bears with Nicholas. On the 21st I 
shot a bear ; on the 22nd, when we again went out, an extra- 
ordinary thing happened to me. The bear without seeing me 
charged me ; I shot at it at a distance of six yards, missed it 
the first time, the second mortally wounded it ; but it rushed at 
me, knocked me down, and, while my companions were running 
up, it bit me twice, in the forehead over the eye and under the 
eye. Fortunately this lasted only ten or fifteen seconds ; the 
bear made its escape, and I rose up with a slight injury which 
neither disfigures me nor causes pain ; neither the skull nor 
the eye are injured, so that I have escaped with merely a little 
scar, which will remain on my forehead. I am now in Moscow 
and feel perfectly well. I am writing you the whole truth 
without concealing anything, so that you may not be anxious. 
Everything is now over, and it only remains to thank God who 
has saved me in such an extraordinary way.' 

This episode served as a subject for his tale, The Wish 
is Stronger than Bondage, published in the Books to Read. 
There are many artistic details left out by Fet with which 
the fancy of the artist adorned the real facts of the incident. 
That is why, in relating it, we preferred to use the reminiscences 
of Tolstoy's friend and his own letter, as better serving our 
purpose. 

The early months of 1859 Tolstoy spent in Moscow, and in 
April he went to St. Petersburg, where he spent ten days in 
the company of his friend A. A. Tolstoy. He cherished the 
most grateful memories of this visit. 

At the end of April Tolstoy was again in Yasnaya Polyana, 
and there he remained for the whole summer. 

During the summer Tolstoy paid a visit to Turgenef at his 
house at Spasskoye. 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, Part I. p. 226. 



PEASANTS' SCHOOLS 259 

In verses sent to Fet on July 16, 1859, Turgenef wrote 
thus : 

' Embrace please Nicolay Tolstoy, 

And give to Lyof Tolstoy my compliments, and to his sister too. 
He rightly says in his postscriptum : 
I have " no cause " to write to him. I know 
He loves me slightly and I love him slightly 
Too different in us are our elements, 
But many are the roads across this world, 
We need not stand in one another's way.' l 

These lines show that their relations continued mutually 
respectful and amiably cold. 

However, the visit went off smoothly. In his letter to Fet 
of October 9th of the same year, Turgenef thus speaks of their 
meeting : 

' Our ladies send their best greetings to all of you. I had a 
quiet talk with Tolstoy, and we parted on friendly terms. It 
seems there can be no misunderstanding between us, because 
we know each other too well, and we understand that it is 
impossible for us to become intimate. We are modelled in 
different clay. 1 

In August Tolstoy is again in Moscow, where he spent the 
autumn. 

The year 1860 found him again in a perturbed mood. 

Yet during the winter of '59 '60 he enjoyed rest and 
pleasure in his schools. In his Confession, he speaks of that 
time in the following terms : 

' On my return from abroad I settled in the country and 
occupied myself with the organisation of schools for the 
peasantry. This occupation was especially grateful to me, 
because it was free from the spirit of imposture which so 
strikes me in the career of a literary teacher. 

' Here again I acted in the name of progress, but this time 
I brought a spirit of critical enquiry to bear on the system on 
which the progress rested. I said to myself that progress was 
often attempted in an irrational manner, and that it was neces- 
sary to leave a primitive people and the children of peasants 
perfectly free to choose the way of progress which they thought 
best. In reality I was still bent on the solution of the same 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, Part I. p. 305. 



260 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

impossible problem, how to teach without knowing what it 
was I had to teach. In the highest sphere of literature I had 
understood that it was impossible to do this, because I had seen 
that everybody had his own way of teaching, and that the 
teachers quarrelled amongst themselves, and scarcely succeeded 
in concealing their ignorance. Having now to deal with 
peasant children, I thought I could get over this difficulty by 
allowing the children to learn jwhatever they liked. It seems now 
absurd, when I remember the experiments by which I carried 
out this whim of mine as to teaching, though I knew in my 
heart that I could teach nothing useful, because I myself did 
not know what it was necessary to teach. 1 1 

This constant feeling of dissatisfaction with himself, this 
searching for the meaning of life, was a permanently active 
force, leading him forward on the path of his moral progress. 

In February Tolstoy was admitted member of the Moscow 
Society of Admirers of Russian Literature. 

On February 4, 1859, a meeting of the Society was held, 
under the presidency of A. S. Khomyakof. 

At this meeting Tolstoy was present, and was one of the 
newly-elected members; and, in accordance with the rules of 
the Society, he had to make an inaugural address. In it, as 
stated in the records of the Society, he mentioned the ad- 
vantage of the purely artistic element in literature over all 
temporary tendencies. Unfortunately, this speech has never 
been preserved. In the minutes of the sitting it is stated that 
at first it was resolved to have the address printed, together 
with the works of the Society, but afterwards, the works not 
being published, the speech was returned to the author, who 
has probably mislaid it along with useless papers. 2 

We can get some idea of this speech from the excellent reply 
made by A. S. Khomyakof, which we quote in toto : 

* The Society of the Admirers of Russian Literature, in add- 
ing you, Count Tolstoy, to the number of its members, bids you 
welcome as a worker in the field of pure art. In your address 
you defend the tendency of pure art, placing it above all other 
temporary and casual tendencies of literary activity. It would 
be strange if the Society did not sympathise with you, but I 

1 How I Came to Believe, p. 13. 

2 The Moscow Society of Admirers of Russian Literature. The Collection 
of Minutet. One of the few remaining copies is in the British Museum. 



KHOMYAKOF'S PROPHECY 261 

beg leave to say that the justice of your views, so skilfully 
expounded by you, does not exclude the rights of the contem- 
porary and the casual in the domain of letters. That which 
is always just, that which is always beautiful, that which is 
unchangeable like the fundamental laws of the soul that un- 
doubtedly occupies, and must occupy, the foremost place in the 
thoughts, in the impulses, and therefore in the words of man. 
That, and that alone, is handed down from generation to 
generation, from nation to nation, as a precious inheritance, 
always being multiplied and never forgotten. But, on the 
other hand, there exists in the nature of man, and in the 
nature of society, as I had the honour to state, a constant 
demand for self-exposure; there are moments, important 
moments, in history when this self-denunciation acquires special 
decisive rights, and comes forward in the domain of letters with 
greater precision and greater sharpness. 

* In the historic process of the life of a nation, the temporary 
and the casual acquire the significance of the universal, of the 
all-human, if only for the reason that all generations, all people, 
can and do understand the painful cries and the painful con- 
fessions peculiar to a particular generation, or a particular 
people. The rights of literature, as subordinate to eternal 
beauty, do not annihilate the rights of literature as the instru- 
ment of criticism and of the disclosure of human defects, while at 
the same time they help to heal social sores. There is bound- 
less beauty in the serene truth and harmony of the soul ; but 
there is also true and high beauty in the penitence which 
restores truth and guides men or communities to moral per- 
fection. Let me add that I cannot share the one-sided views 
(as they seem to me) of German aesthetics. 

4 Of course, art is quite free : in itself it finds its justification 
and its aim. But freedom of art, abstractedly understood, has 
nothing to do with the inner life of the artist. 

' The artist is not the theory, not the domain of thought and 
intellectual activity : he is a man, and always a man of his 
time, usually its best representative, steeped in its spirit, and 
that both in its established and its still developing tendencies. 

' By the very sensitiveness of his organisation, without which 
he could not be an artist, he, more than others, enters into 

all the painful as well as iovful sensations of the world which 

j i . ' J 

surrounds him. 



262 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

' By always devoting himself to the true and the beautiful, he 
involuntarily reflects in word, thought, and imagination the 
contemporary epoch in its mixture of truth, which gladdens 
a pure heart, and falsehood, which perturbs its harmonious 
repose. 

' Thus flow together the two streams of literature of which we 
spoke ; thus a writer, a servant of pure art, becomes at times 
a trenchant social critic, and that unwittingly and sometimes 
even against his will. I beg leave, Count, to take you as an 
example. You are treading the particular path of literary art 
unflinchingly and rightly, but are you really quite alien to the 
tendency which you call denunciatory literature ? 

* Now, in the picture of the consumptive driver dying on the 
stove in the midst of a group of comrades, who are evidently 
indifferent to his sufferings, is it not possible that you revealed 
some social disease, some kind of vice ? In describing this death, 
did you not feel pain at the callous indifference of those good- 
natured, but unawakened human souls? Yes, and therefore 
you were and must be an involuntary teacher. I wish you good 
speed on the grand path you have chosen. 

* Success be with you in the future as it has been hitherto, or 
let it be still greater, for your gift is not a transitory gift, not one 
to be soon exhausted. But, believe me, in letters the eternal 
and artistic constantly absorb the temporary and transient, 
developing and ennobling them, and all the various streams of 
the domain of human letters constantly flow together, forming 
one harmonious current/ 1 

The prophecy of Khomyakof was fulfilled. Apart from the 
denunciatory element of all Tolstoy's work of the first period, 
twenty years later Tolstoy came forward with his own penitence, 
and then with his denunciation of contemporary evils. And in 
this cause he has concentrated all his powerful artistic gifts. 

1 Rustian Archive, 1896, No. 11, p. 491. Article of V. N. Lyaskovskv, 
' A. S. Khomyakof : his Biography and his Teaching.' 



CHAPTER XII 

THE SECOND JOURNEY ABROAD 
HIS BROTHER'S DEATH 

Tolstoy's letter to Fet about Turgenef s and Ostrovsky's works Reading and 
thinking about progress Lull in Tolstoy's literary activity Attitude of 
his friends Visit to Yasnaya Polyana by Fet and his wif e Characteristic 
of N. N. Tolstoy described by Fet Turgenef's opinion of N. N. Tolstoy 
Foreign journey of N. N. Tolstoy Turgenef's counsels Tolstoy's letter to 
Fet about the management of the estate Attitude of Druzhinin towards 
the interruption of literary activity in Fet and Tolstoy Letter of N. N. 
Tolstoy from St. Petersburg His letter from Sodene Tolstoy's resolution 
to go abroad Departure of Tolstoy and his sister with her children in a 
steamer from St. Petersburg to Stettin Tolstoy's attitude towards this 
journey in Confession His sojourn in Berlin The university, the meet- 
ing of artisans, the Moabit Prison The continuance of his journey 
Saxon Switzerland Dresden Meeting with Auerbach described from 
the reminiscences by Schyler The Saxon schools Kissingen Letter to 
Tatiana Study of works on philosophy His opinion of Herzen Ac- 
quaintance with Julius Froebel Study of the works of Riehl Walks in 
the outskirts Harz, Thiiringen, Wart burg Tolstoy on Luther Illness 
of N. N. Tolstoy N. N. Tolstoy's letters to Fet N. N.'s letters to 
Diakofs His journey to Kissingen The meeting there of the three 
brothers : Sergey, Nicolay, and Lyof Arrival of Leo Tolstoy in Sodene 
and departure of the whole Tolstoy family to Frankfort Reminiscences 
of Countess A. A. Tolstoy The arrival of the Tolstoy family at Hyeres 
Tolstoy's letter to Tatiana Hope for N. N.'s recovery N. N.'s letter to 
Diakof Death of N. N. Tolstoy Tolstoy's letter to his aunt Tatiana 
Tolstoy's letter to his brother Sergey Impression made upon Leo 
Tolstoy by death of his brother Letter of Tolstoy to Fet about his 
brother's death and about the absurdity of life Reflections on the death 
of a boy The comparison of these thoughts with the latest conclusion 
Reminiscences of Plaksin about life in Hyeres with Leo Tolstoy Con- 
tinuation of the journey Visit to Marseilles by Leo Tolstoy and his 
opinion of the local popular education Tolstoy in Paris Schyler's narra- 
tive about Tolstoy His opinion of contemporary French writers A 
journey to London Acquaintance with Herzen Reminiscences of Mme 
Tuchkof-Ogaref Account by Herzen's daughter Palmerston's speech 
Emancipation of the serfs Tolstoy's appointment as Peace Mediator- 
Departure from London to Brussels Acquaintance with Proudhon and 
Lelewel Tolstoy at Weimar Goethe's house The Froebel gardens 
Recollections of a schoolmaster Jena, Dresden Second visit of Auerbach 
Entry in diary concerning Auerbach Letter to Tatiana Berlin, 
acquaintance with Diesterweg Discussion of Tolstoy with Diesterweg 
about education and instruction Return to Russia Tolstoy's attitude to 
German theories on education. 

IN February 1860, Fet wrote to Tolstoy to consult him as to 
an intention which he had of buying some land and devoting 

263 



264 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

himself to agriculture. Tolstoy's answer was very sympathetic, 
he approved of Fet's plans, offered his help, mentioning certain 
lands for sale, and after this businesslike part of the letter, of 
no general interest, he expressed the following important 
thoughts about some works of Turgenef and Ostrovsky : 

' I have read On the Eve. This is my opinion. To write 
stories is in general a mistake, and especially so on the part 
of those who feel unhappy and do not exactly know what they 
desire from life. However, On the Eve is much better than 
A Nest of Nobles, and there are in it excellent negative char- 
acters: the artist and the father. The other characters not 
only fail to be types, but their conception, their situation, is 
not typical, or else they are quite trivial. However, this is 
Turgenef 's usual mistake. The young lady is wretchedly 
drawn : " Oh, how I love you . . . she had long eyelashes . . ." 
In general it always astonishes me in Turgenef that with his 
intelligence and poetic sensitiveness he is not able to avoid 
insipidity, and that even in his methods. There is more of 
this insipidity in his negative methods reminding one of 
Gogol. There is no humanity, no sympathy with the char- 
acters, but monsters are represented whom he abuses but does 
not pity. This painfully jars with the liberal tone and bearing 
of all the rest. This method may have been good in times 
gone by and in those of Gogol. Besides, one must add that 
if one does not pity one's most insignificant characters, then 
one should cut them up like mincemeat, or else laugh them 
down till one's sides ache; but not treat them as Turgenef 
does filled with spleen and dyspepsia. In general, however, 
no one else now could write such a story, although it will not 
meet with success. 

* The Tempest, by Ostrovsky, is to my mind a pitiful work, 
but it will succeed. Neither Ostrovsky nor Turgenef are to 
blame, but the times. . . . Another thing is now required. 
It is not for us to learn, but to teach Tommy and Mary at 
least a little of what we know. Good-bye, dear friend.' 

Tolstoy had arrived at the conclusion that a man endowed 
with brains and enriched with knowledge must, before deriving 
pleasure from them for himself, give a share in the benefit of 
them to those who are deprived of both. Accordingly, he 
had devoted to the school the time he had free from his work 
on the estate. In these occupations he passed the winter of 



LETTER TO FET 265 

1859-60. At the same time, while doing reading, serious 
reading, he had come to the following conclusions. 

' 1st February. I have read La degenerescence de T esprit 
humain, and about there being physically a higher degree of 
intellectual development. In this state I mechanically thought 
of prayer. Prayer to Whom ? What, is God conceived so 
clearly that one can beseech and communicate with Him ? If 
I do conceive such a one He loses all majesty for me. A 
God whom one can beseech and serve is the expression of the 
weakness of one's mind. God is God precisely because I cannot 
imagine the whole of His being. Besides, He is not a being, 
but a Law and a Power. 

'Let these lines remain as an indication of my conviction 
of the power of the mind.' 

Then he reads Auerbach's stories, Reynard the Fox by 
Goethe, and finally about the same time he jots down the 
following thought: 

1 A strange religion is mine and that of our time, the 
religion of progress. Who said that progress was good ? It 
is merely the absence of faith and the striving after lines of 
activity represented as faith. Man requires an impulse 
Schwung Yes, that is it. 1 

These thoughts were fully developed in his educational 
works, as we shall see later on, and also in the self-analysis 
contained in his confession quoted above. 

Tolstoy's friends were watching his literary career with 
intense interest, treating condescendingly and half-jokingly 
' the foolishness and eccentricity,' as they called them, of those 
manifestations of the deep inner growth in Tolstoy, which 
most of them wholly failed to understand. 

Thus Botkin casually wrote to Fet on March 6, I860: 

' I learnt with joy from Turgenef s letter, that Tolstoy has 
again set to work at his Caucasian novel. He may play the 
fool as long as he likes, still I maintain he is a man with great 
gifts. Any portion of his foolishness is of more value to me 
than the wisest acts of others.' l 

Turgenef 's attitude was the same : here is part of his letter 
to Fet of the same year : 

' But Lyof Tolstoy still goes on in his queer way. Such is 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiicencts, Part I. p. 324. 



266 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

evidently his destiny. When will he make his last somersault 
and stand on his feet ? ' l 

In the spring of 1860, Fet and his wife paid their usual visit 
at Yasnaya Polyana on their way from town to the country. 
Fet made a short note of his stay there on this occasion. 

' Of course, we could not refuse ourselves the pleasure of 
spending a couple of days in Yasnaya Polyana, where, to add 
to our joy, we found dear N. N. Tolstoy, who for his original 
Oriental wisdom has earned the nickname of Firdusi. How 
many delightful plans of staying in the gable in Yasnaya 
Polyana were discussed in great detail by us during those 
two days ! It did not occur to any one of us how unsound 
all those plans were.' 

Further on Fet tells of the coming of Nicolay Tolstoy to 
their place : 

' Once Nicolay Tolstoy arrived here in the middle of May 
and told us that his sister Marie Tolstoy and his brothers had 
persuaded him to go abroad on account of his unbearable fits 
of coughing. He was very thin at this time, apart from his 
usual slimness. From time to time in his good-natured 
laughter could be heard that note of irritability which is 
habitual with consumptive people. I remember how he once 
got angry and pulled his hand from the coachman, who had 
tried to Kiss it. True, he said nothing in the presence of the 
serf, but when the latter went out to see to the horses, he 
began to complain with annoyance in his voice to me and 
Borisof : ** What made the idiot kiss my hand ? It never 
happened before.' 1 ' 2 

Since we have to speak of Tolstoy's relations to his brother 
during his life and at his death, it may be well to quote Fet's 
character-sketch of this remarkable man. 

' Count N. N. Tolstoy, who called on us almost every evening, 
used to bring with him a moral interest and vivacity, which it is 
difficult to describe in a few words. At that time he was still 
wearing his uniform as an artillery officer, and it was sufficient 
to give a glance at his thin hands, his great thoughtful eyes and 
hollow cheeks, to be convinced that cruel consumption had laid 
its merciless hold on this good-natured and kindly-humorous 
man. Unfortunately, this remarkable man, of whom to say 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, Part I. p. 325. 
3 Ibid., p. 326. 



COUNT N. N. TOLSTOY 267 

that he was loved by those who knew him is not enough, for 
they simply worshipped him, this man, while in the Caucasus, 
had acquired that habit of indulgence in alcoholic liquors, 
which at that time was common among officers. Though I after- 
wards knew N. Tolstoy intimately, and spent with him much 
time in far-off hunting-fields, where it would have been easier 
to drink than at evening parties, yet during our three years 1 
friendship I never noticed the slightest symptom of his being 
overcome by wine or spirits. He would sit in an arm-chair 
close to the table and sip his tea with some cognac added to it. 
Being of a very modest disposition, he needed a great deal of 
questioning to make him talk. But once launched on any sub- 
ject, he would reveal all the acuteness and mirth of his kind- 
hearted sense of humour. He evidently adored his youngest 
brother Lyof. But one had to hear how ironically he described 
his society adventures. He could so definitely separate what is 
the real substance of life from its gauzy outer seeming, that he 
treated with equal irony the higher and lower strata of Caucasian 
life. The celebrated hunter, of the sect of old believers, uncle 
Epishka (in Tolstoy's Cossacks, Yeroshka), was evidently dis- 
covered and defined with the mastery of an artist by N. 
Tolstoy.' 1 

N. N. Tolstoy wrote very little. We only know of his 
Memoirs of a Sportsman. 

E. Garshin in his ' Reminiscences of Turgenef ' quotes the 
following opinion of his concerning N. Tolstoy : 

' The humility of life,' said Turgenef, * which was theoretically 
worked out by Lyof Tolstoy, was really practised by his brother. 
He always lived somewhere in the outskirts of Moscow, in poor 
lodgings which were more like a hut, and gladly shared what he 
had with the poorest man. He was a delightful character and 
a good story-teller, but writing was almost physically impossible 
for him. The very process of writing was a difficulty with him, 
just as it is with a labourer whose hands are so roughened by 
work that he can scarcely hold the pen between his fingers.' 2 

To the general joy of his friends, N. Tolstoy's journey 
abroad was actually settled. This joy, however, was of short 
duration. 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, Part I. p. 217. 

* E. Garshin, " Reminiscences of Turgenef." Historical Review, November 
1883. 



268 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

He left Russia vid St. Petersburg with his brother Sergey. 

Turgenef, who had a strong regard for him, felt very anxious, 
and wrote to Fet from Sodene on June 1, 1860: 

' What you tell me of Nicolay Tolstoy's illness grieves me 
deeply. Is it possible that this dear, good fellow must perish ? 
How could any one neglect such an illness ? Is it possible that 
he did not try to overcome his indolence and go abroad for his 
health ? He used to travel to the Caucasus in most infernally 
uncomfortable vehicles. Why not make him come to Sodene ? 
One meets here dozens of sufferers from chest complaints : the 
Sodene waters are almost the best, if not the best for such cases. 
I say all this to you at a distance of two thousand versts, as if 
my words were of some help. . . If Tolstoy has not yet started, 
he will not go. . . This is how fate plays with us all.' l 

He repeats the same in the postscript of the same letter : 

* If N. Tolstoy has not yet gone, throw yourself at his feet 
and implore him, then drive him by force abroad. The air here, 
for instance, is so mild, nothing of the kind exists in Russia.' 2 

Of course Tolstoy was very much alarmed by his brother's 
illness. Here is a letter written about that time by him to 
Fet, in which, besides his anxiety about his brother, he expressed 
certain views on agricultural work. 

'. . . That besides your literary work you wish to find a place on 
the earth and burrow about in it like an ant such an idea was 
not only bound to suggest itself to you, but you are sure to 
realise it better than myself, being, as you are, a good man 
with a healthy outlook on life. However, it is not for me at 
the present moment to patronisingly approve or disapprove of 
you, for I am burdened with a sense of great inconsistency. 
Farming in the big way I am doing, oppresses me ; personal 
labour on the land I can only as yet contemplate at a distance. 
On the other hand, I am oppressed by family worries, the ill- 
ness of Nicolenka, of whom there is yet no news from abroad, 
and the departure of my sister in three days' time, depress me. 
In general I feel undone. Owing to my sister's helplessness and 
the desire to see Nicolas, I will to-morrow procure a passport 
for abroad and will perhaps accompany them, especially if I do 
not get any news or get bad news from Nicolas.' 

At that time a pause ensued in the literary activity of both 

1 A. Fet, My Reminitcences, Part I. pp. 328, 329. 

2 Ibid. 



LETTER FROM DRUZHININ 269 

Tolstoy and his friend Fet, who, though feebly, yet accurately 
reflected the inner process going on in Tolstoy's life. 

The following are examples of the well-reasoned letters 
written by Druzhinin to Tolstoy and Fet, inciting them to 
literary work. His letter to Tolstoy is particularly interesting. 

' I hasten, my amiable friend Tolstoy, to answer your letter 
concerning your attitude to literature. As you will probably 
understand, every writer is attacked by moments of doubt and 
dissatisfaction with himself; it does not matter how strong 
and natural this feeling is ; nobody relinquishes literature in 
consequence, but all write on till the end of life. But all your 
good and evil impulses stick to you with peculiar tenacity, 
and therefore you are more bound to think over it than 
anybody else, and you should consider the whole matter in a 
genial manner. 

* In the first place, remember that, compared with the labour 
of poetry and thought, all other labours seem trivial. Qui a 
bu, boira, and for a writer to give up his activity at the age of 
thirty means depriving himself of one-half of all the interests 
of life. And this is only one of the difficulties of the matter ; 
there is much of wider significance. 

* On all of us there rests a responsibility attached to the 
extreme importance of literature to Russian society. An Eng- 
lishman or an American would laugh, if told that in Russia not 
only men who are thirty years old, but grey-haired landowners 
possessing two thousand serfs, pore over a novelette of a hundred 
pages which has appeared in a magazine, is being devoured by 
everybody, and provokes talk in society for a whole day. It 
does not matter by what art you try to explain this matter, it 
is not to be explained by means of art. What in other countries is 
only talk of careless dilettantism, in ours takes a different shape. 
In our country things have come to this, that a novelette a 
diversion and the lowest kind of literature becomes either use- 
less trash or the voice of a new mind for the whole Empire. 
For instance, we all know Turgenefs weakness, but a whole 
ocean separates his poorest novelette from the very best novels 
of Mrs. Eugenie Toor's with her half- talent. The Russian 
public, having a peculiar taste, has from a crowd of writers 
chosen four or five as superior to the rest, and values them 
as new minds, disregarding all considerations and inferences. 
Partly through your talents, partly owing to the bright traits 



270 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

of your spirit, and partly to the lucky concurrence of circum- 
stances, you are placed in a favourable position for influencing 
the public ; consequently it is impossible to retire and hide 
one's self, one must work on till one's strength and means are 
exhausted. This is one side of the matter, but there is another. 
You are a member of a literary circle, which is honest, indepen- 
dent, and influential, as far as possible, and which, during ten 
years of persecution and reverses, still, in spite of its own short- 
comings, firmly upholds the banner of everything that makes 
for Liberalism and enlightenment, and bears all the pressure 
of the ironies of life without ever committing a mean action. 

4 In spite of all the coldness of society, its want of enlighten- 
ment, and its tendency to treat literature with mere condescen- 
sion, this circle has gained respect and moral force, and even if, 
as no doubt is the case, there are shallow, not to say foolish and 
insignificant people in it, still they add something to the whole, 
and are not quite useless. Notwithstanding the short time it 
is since you arrived, you have a place and a voice in this circle, 
such as, for instance, Ostrovsky does not possess, though he has 
great talent, and is as much respected for his moral attitude as 
you are for yours. It would take too long to find out how this 
has come about, but that is not the chief thing. Once having 
cut yourself off from the literary circle and surrendered yourself 
to inactivity, you will feel lonely, and will deprive yourself of 
an important rdle in society. Here I finish my dissertation 
owing to lack of space in the letter ; if these suggestions prove 
of interest to you, you will develop and complete them 
yourself. 1 

With the same friendly advice he addresses Fet : 

' DEAR FET, What I said to Tolstoy I repeat to you, as to 
your intention to write no more. Stick to your resolution till 
you are ready to write something good ; but when you are 
able to write, then you will change your mind without outside 
influence. 

' To keep good poetry and a good book unpublished is im- 
possible, had you sworn a thousand oaths to do so, so you need 
not trouble. For these last two or three years you and Tolstoy 
have been in an uninspired mood, and you act wisely in keeping 
silent ; but as soon as the soul is stirred and something good 
is created, you will both break silence. Therefore don't bind 



N. N. TOLSTOY'S ILLNESS 271 

yourselves with promises, the more so because nobody expects 
any from either of you. What is not right in Tolstoy's reso- 
lution and yours is this they have originated under the influ- 
ence of a certain grudge against literature and the public. But 
if an author is to be offended at every manifestation of indiffer- 
ence and every piece of harsh criticism, there will be no one left 
to do any writing except Turgenef, who manages somehow to 
be everybody's friend. To take to heart literary squabbles is, 
in my opinion, the same thing as to get angry with the horse 
you are riding for misbehaving while you are in a poetic mood. 
I may tell you that I have been abused and offended to a degree, 
yet this has not deprived me of a particle of my appetite ; on 
the contrary, I have found a peculiar pleasure in my determina- 
tion to sit firmly and move forward, and I shall certainly not 
stop writing till I have said all I think necessary to say.' 1 

Druzhinin was certainly mistaken in thus attributing his 
friends' silence to irritation against the public. If such an 
irritation existed, it was but the outcome of the same cause 
which kept them from writing, the conviction that neither the 
reader nor the author had any firm moral basis and bond of 
union for mutual understanding, 

The authors did not know what to write ; the readers, as 
represented by the critics, did not know what to demand from 
the authors. This would continue to be the case till some 
great event of life or history would stir the brain and feeling 
of the author, and incite him to activity. 

Let us return to N. Tolstoy's illness. 

On his way abroad he wrote to Fet from St. Petersburg : 

'My dear friends, Fet and Ivan Petrovich, I keep my 
promise even before I gave it. I intended to write from 
abroad, and now I write from St. Petersburg. We are off 
on Saturday i.e. to-morrow. I consulted Zdekauer, he is a 
St. Petersburg doctor, and not a Berlin man, as I made out 
from Turgenefs letter. The watering-place Turgenef is stay- 
ing at, Sodene, is the same that we are sent to, consequently 
my address, too, is Francfort-on-Main.' 

Following this, Fet received his second letter sent from 
Sodene itself: 

4 Not having heard from you, I write to inform you that I 

1 A. Fet, My JReminiscencet, Part I. p. 334. 



272 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

reached Sodene safely ; however, they did not fire any cannon 
at my arrival. In Sodene we found Turgenef, who is alive and 
well, so well that he himself owns he is " perfectly " well. He 
has discovered a certain German girl, and is very enthusiastic 
about her. We (it refers to dear old Turgenef) play at chess, 
but somehow it does not work : he is thinking about his 
German girl, and I about getting well. As I have sacrificed 
this autumn, I must become a giant by next autumn. Sodene 
is an excellent place. I have been scarcely a week here, and 
feel already a great deal better. We are, my brother and I, in 
lodgings. For three rooms we pay twenty guldens a week, 
table d'hote = one gulden, wine forbidden. From this you can 
infer what an unpretending place Sodene is, but I like it. 
Facing my windows grows a not exactly beautiful tree, still 
a bird has made its home there and sings on it every evening. 
It reminds me of the wing of the building at Novosyolky. 

* Give my regards to Marya Petrovna and be well, my friends, 
and write to me often. I believe I shall stay a long time at 
Sodene, about six weeks at least. I do not describe the journey, 
because I was ill all the time. Once more, good-bye/ l 

On July 3, Tolstoy, with his sister and her children, took 
the steamer at St. Petersburg to go to Stettin for Berlin. 

The illness of his brother was the reason which hastened 
Tolstoy's departure abroad, though he had been ready long 
before. His purpose was to get acquainted with what had 
been done in Europe for popular education. 

'After a year spent by me in work amongst the schools 
(in Russia),' says Tolstoy in his Confession, 'I went abroad 
for the second time in order there to find out how I could 
manage to learn to teach others without knowing anything 
myself.' 

But Tolstoy could thus severely criticise the object of his 
journey only twenty years later, when he gave himself up to 
the study 01 this subject with all the passionate fervour of his 
temperament. 

The illness and death of his brother did not stop this work, 
it only divided the journey in two parts. 

We will try to describe more fully what took place. 

From Stettin Tolstoy arrived in Berlin with his sister, who 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, Part I. p. 332. 



VISIT TO BERLIN 273 

continued her journey to join her brother at Sodene, while 
Tolstoy remained for a few days in Berlin. 1 

He attended the university, and was present at the lectures 
given by Droysen, the Professor of History, and also at those 
of Dubois-Raymond, the Professor of Physics and Physiology. 
Besides this, Tolstoy went to the evening classes for artisans 
Handwerksverein and got very much interested in the popular 
lectures of one prominent professor, especially in the system of 
'query-boxes. 12 This method of national education was till 
then unknown to Tolstoy, and it struck him by its animation 
and the freedom of intercourse which it encouraged between 
the representatives of science and the people at large. Un- 
fortunately, forty years have since gone by, but Russia has 
not yet reached this simple method of educating the people. 
The police censorship, theological and lay, makes the applica- 
tion of the system impossible. 

After this Tolstoy visited the Moabit Prison, with its newly 
introduced method of scientific torture, known by the name of 
solitary confinement. Needless to say, this new invention did 
not produce a favourable impression on him. 

He left Berlin on July 14. 

He stopped for a day in Leipsic to examine the schools, and 
having crossed the so-called * Swiss-Saxony, 1 which impressed 
him very much by its beauty, he paused at Dresden, where he 
met the well-known popular writer Berthold Auerbach. 

The American writer Schyler in his Reminiscences gives 
Tolstoy's account of this interview, amplifying it by a few 
details collected afterwards : 

'In helping Tolstoy to arrange his library, I noticed that 
the works of Auerbach occupied the honoured place on the 
first shelf. He took the two volumes of Em Neues Leben, and 
told me to read that very remarkable book when I went to bed, 
adding 

' " To this author I was indebted for the opening of a school 
for my peasants, and for so becoming interested in national 
education. When I went abroad for the second time, I visited 

1 The interesting details of the second journey abroad we borrow from 
the book of Loewenfeld, Count L. N. Tolstoy : His Life and Works, in which 
this journey is minutely described. We have only corrected a few mistakes 
with the help of Tolstoy's letters to his relations. 

2 A system of putting written questions in a box, to be answered later by 
the speaker. Trans. 

VOL. I. 8 



274 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Auerbach without naming myself. When he came into the 
room I only said, 'I am Eugene Baumann, 11 and when he 
showed astonishment I made haste to add, 'not actually by 
name, but by character. 1 And then I told him who I was, 
how his writings had compelled me to think, and what a good 
effect they had upon me." 

' In the following winter,' continues Schyler, ' I had an 
opportunity of spending a few days in Berlin. While there, 
under the hospitable roof of the American ambassador, Mr. 
Bancroft, I had the pleasure of meeting Auerbach, with whom 
I got very well acquainted during that time. In speaking of 
Russia, we turned to Tolstoy, and I reminded him of the 
incident. 

'"Yes, 11 he said, "I remember how I was taken aback by 
the odd-looking gentleman, when he told me he was Eugene 
Baumann, for I was afraid he would threaten me with prosecu- 
tion for defamation or libel. 11 ' 

The examination of the schools in Saxony did not satisfy 
Tolstoy. 

In his travelling notes we find the following short description 
of these schools : 

' I visited a school. It was dreadful. Prayers for the King, 
whippings, everything learnt by heart, frightened, mentally 
distorted children. 1 

On July 19 he continued his journey, and arrived at Kissin- 
gen, where he was near his brother. 

In Kissingen he continued to read a great deal : on natural 
science he read Bacon ; on religion, Luther ; on politics, Riehl. 
He probably read Herzen at the same time, for there is a short 
entry about him in his diary. 

* Herzen a scattered intellect, sick with vanity, but broad, 
agile and kind, distinguished, purely Russian. 1 

In Kissingen, Tolstoy made the acquaintance of Julius 
Froebel, the German sociologist, author of The System of 
National Politics, and nephew of the educationist Froebel, the 
founder of the Kindergarten. 

According to Froebel, Tolstoy astonished him by his strong 
views, which were quite new to the German scholar, and seemed 
not to harmonise with his ' system. 1 

'Progress in Russia, 1 Tolstoy said, 'must emanate from 

1 The hero of a story by Auerbach. 



MEETING WITH FROEBEL 275 

national education, which will give better results in our 
country than in Germany, because the Russian people are 
not yet perverted, whereas the Germans resemble a child who 
has been for several years undergoing a wrong education. 1 

Popular instruction must not be compulsory, such was his 
idea. If it is good, he said, then the need of it must be born 
of itself, just as the desire of nutrition is created by hunger. 

He expressed with great animation his views upon communal 
peasant ownership of land, and saw in the ' artel ' the future 
of social organisation. Froebel often smiled as he listened 
to similar views expressed by Tolstoy with reference to the 
German people. Tolstoy was struck by not finding in a single 
German peasant household either Village Tales or the works of 
Goebel. Russian peasants, he declared, would have shed tears 
over such books. 

The impressions received by him from Berthold Auerbach in 
Dresden, and from Froebel during their walks together, con- 
firmed him in a task, the outline of which had only existed 
vaguely in his mind. The author of The System of Social 
Politics pointed out to him that the works of Riehl were more 
in sympathy with his (Tolstoy's) views, and Tolstoy, with all 
the ardour of youth, began to study The Natural History of 
the People as the Foundation of German Social Policy. 

The nephew of Frederic Froebel was also by vocation an 
educationist. He made Tolstoy acquainted with the ideas of 
the founder of the Kindergarten system. 

In Kissingen, Tolstoy visited all the suburbs, which are rich 
in natural beauty and historical reminiscences. He crossed the 
Harz, stopped at some towns in Thuringia, and from Eisenach 
went on to Wartburg. 

The personality of the German reformer, whose hard struggle 
is recalled by Wartburg, interested Tolstoy very much. Luther's 
rupture with the old traditions, his bold and upright progres- 
sive activity, and the ideas of which he was a representative, 
carried Tolstoy completely away, and after a visit to the room 
in which were written the first words of the Bible in German, 
he wrote down in his diary this short sentence: 'Luther is 
great.' 

Meanwhile the invalid N. Tolstoy wrote to Fet on July 19 : 

'I would have written long ago, my dear friends, only I 
wanted to give you the news of all our Tolstoy household, but 



276 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

a great muddle ensued some time ago, which at last cleared up 
in this way: my sister and her children arrived at Sodene, 
where she will stay and pursue her cure; Uncle Lyovochka 
remains at Kissingen, five hours distant from Sodene, and is 
not coming to Sodene, so that I shall not see him. Your letter 
I have sent to Lyovochka, by my brother Sergey, who will call 
at Kissingen on his way to Russia. He will call on you soon, 
and tell you everything in detail. Forgive me, dear Afanasy 
Afanasyevich, I have read your letter to my brother. There 
is much truth in it, when you speak of things in general ; but 
when you mention yourself, you are not right ; there is always 
the same defect of being unbusinesslike; you do not know 
yourself, and you know nothing of what is around you. But 
pots are not boiled by the gods; now, be practical, go un- 
hesitatingly into business, and I am sure it will drive the 
babbler out of you ; besides, it will probably squeeze out of 
you some lyrical verses, which Turgenef and I and a few more 
fellows would read with pleasure. As to the rest of the world 
forget it. What I love you for, my dear Afanasy Afanasy- 
evich, is this, that you are all truth ; what comes out of you is 
in you, and is not mere words, as is the case with dear old 
Ivan Sergeyevich. Yet I feel quite lonely without him in 
Sodene, apart from the fact that our chess club has come to 
grief. Even my appetite is not the same, since I have ceased 
to sit beside his stout and healthy figure, asking either for 
carrots to add to the meat, or meat to add to the carrots. I 
have often talked with him of you, especially lately. "Now 
Fet is starting, now Fet is coming, now Fet is shooting at 
last. 11 Ivan Sergeyevich has bought a dog a black pointer, 
half-breed. I have finished my water cure and intend to under- 
take a few excursions. Yet my chief quarters will be Sodene 
and the address the same. 1 

Nicolay Tolstoy left so few literary works that we quote 
below some of his letters to the common friend of the Tolstoy 
brothers, Dmitri Alexeyevich Diakof. Although their con- 
tents are not very rich, still they reflect his kindheartedness. 

He wrote to Diakof twice from Sodene : 

1. * DEAR DIAKOF, Did you get my letter from St. Peters- 
burg ? If you did, you are committing a crime by not answer- 
ing. What is the matter with you ? I hope all your folks are 



LETTERS OF N. N. TOLSTOY 277 

well for Christ's sake answer me if Darya Alexandrovna is 
going abroad. When, to what place, or is she gone already ? 
If I knew all this I would go to meet her straight off. I have 
done taking mineral waters and now I am resting. My sister 
is at Sodene too, she will stay four weeks. My address is 
Sodene, near Francfort-on-Main, Landlust House, &c. 

' My health has improved, but I am not well yet ; I dare say 
I could say the same about your people. For Christ's sake, let 
me know how you are managing your household, what plans 
you have made, &c. Lyovochka is in Kissingen ; Seryozha was 
with me in Sodene ; he got stumped by playing roulette and 
went back to Russia ; he will probably call at your place. 
Yours, COUNT N. TOLSTOY.' 

' July 19th. 

2. ' I don't know how to thank you, Darya Alexandrovna, 
for your postscript ; it means that you have not forgotten your 
neighbour. How is your health ? How is Masha ? I expect 
we shall meet this year, and I look forward to it with delight ; 
only let me know where you are, and I will look you up at 
once. My sister is at Sodene with me, and begs me to remem- 
ber her to you. We are both of us cursing the weather just 
fancy, we had no summer here. The wind blows and it rains 
all the time, not only in Sodene but all over Europe. Do not 
let this frighten you ; do come and bring us some nice weather. 
With esteem and respect, yours faithfully, 

* COUNT N. TOLSTOY.' 

* I am afraid, dear Dmitri, that this letter will not reach you 
in time ; if you get it, let me know immediately where you are 
going. Where will you pass the autumn ? That's the chief 
point. My address is the same as before Sodene as I don't 
know myself where I shall go after this. I have been prescribed 
grapes and a good climate ; however, neither of them can be 
found in Europe this year. My sister's regards to you. Yours, 

'N. TOLSTOY. 

' August 28.' 

After this, very unsatisfactory news began to arrive from 
Sodene. N. Tolstoy had enjoyed a few weeks in a beautiful 
spot, in company with his sister and her children and his 



278 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

brother Sergey, but his health did not improve. The doctors 
advised him to move to Italy. 

On August 6, Sergey Nicolayevich Tolstoy returned home. 
Naturally, he took the opportunity to stop at Kissingen, which 
takes a five hours' journey, to see his brother Lyof and inform 
him of the serious fears they entertained concerning the health 
of Nicolay. Three days after, on the very date when Sergey 
Nicolayevich had to start for Russia, his brother Nicolay 
arrived at Kissingen. Their sister and her children remained 
at Sodene to finish their cure. 

Nicolay Tolstoy stayed a short time in Kissingen and went 
back to Sodene, but Lyof Tolstoy remained for some time on 
the Garz, enjoying nature and devoting his leisure to reading. 

At last he came to Sodene on August 26. There everything 
was ready for departure, and on August 29 Tolstoy with his 
brother went to Freiburg. 

Evidently powerful idiosyncrasies had made Tolstoy very 
original even in appearance. We have heard how he frightened 
Auerbach. In Francfort a similar incident happened. His 
aunt A. A. Tolstoy speaks of it thus : 

* We arrived at Francfort. One day Prince Alexander of 
Hessen and his wife called on me, and during their visit the 
door suddenly opened and Tolstoy appeared in a most singular 
dress, reminding one of Spanish robbers as seen in pictures. I 
simply gasped, so great was my astonishment. . . . Tolstoy 
was not pleased with my visitors and soon went away. 

' " Qui est done ce sviigulier personnage .?" asked my astonished 
guests. 

' " Mais Jest Uon Tolstoy? 

'"Ah, mon dieUj pourquoi ne Tavez vous pas nomme ? Apres 
avoir lu ses admirables ecrits nous mourions d'envie de le voir" 
they reproached me/ * 

From Francfort all the Tolstoy family, by advice of their 
doctors, moved to Hyeres on the Mediterranean. But poor 
Nicolay Tolstoy did not benefit by it and died shortly after- 
wards. 

A few days after his arrival Tolstoy wrote his aunt Tatiana 
a letter in which the hope that his brother would recover is still 
perceptible. 

1 Iv. Zakharin (Yakunin), ' Countess Alexandra Andreyevna Tolstoy.' The 
Messenger of Europe, June 1904. 




LEO TOLSTOY DURING HIS SECOND STAY 
ABROAD, i860 



DEATH OF N. N. TOLSTOY 279 

'The state of Nicolay 's health is still the same, but it is only 
here that we can expect any improvement, for the kind of 
life he led in Sodene, the journey and the bad weather, were on 
the contrary sure to injure him. Here the weather has been 
splendid these three days, and they say it has been fine all along. 
There is here a certain Princess Galitzin who has been living in 
the country for nine years. Marie has made her acquaintance, 
and this princess says she arrived here in a much worse state 
than that of Nicolay, and now she is a sturdy woman in perfectly 
good health. 1 

But Nicolay was getting worse and worse. A few days before 
his death he wrote to Diakof in Paris ; his handwriting had 
become faint and straggling, and he himself confessed that his 
strength was failing him. 

' I write you a few lines to let you know where I am. I and 
my sister are passing the winter at Hyeres. Here is my address 
and that of Lyovochka as well Mme. Senequier's House, 
Rue du Midi, Hyeres. Alas ! I could not go to Paris, such a 
journey is beyond my strength, I am too weak. As soon as you 
arrive and find my letter, let me know where you stopped, how 
you completed the journey, &c. If we cannot see each other, 
let us keep up correspondence. Yours entirely, 

'N. TOLSTOY.' 

September 20, 1860 (N.S.), he died, and Tolstoy thus informs 
his aunt Tatiana of it : 

'DEAR AUNT, The black seal will tell you all that I have 
been expecting from hour to hour for a fortnight has happened 
to-day at nine in the morning. Only yesterday evening did he 
for the first time allow me to help him to undress, this morning 
for the first time he returned to bed and asked for a nurse. He 
was conscious the whole time. A quarter of an hour before his 
death he drank some milk and told me he felt well. This 
morning he even joked and showed interest in my plans of 
education. Only a few minutes before death he murmured 
several times, " My God, my God ! " I think he felt his 
position, but deceived us and himself. ... I have only just 
closed his eyes. I shall now soon be with you and personally 
relate everything to you. I do not think of bringing back his 



280 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

body. The Princess Galitzin has undertaken to arrange every- 
thing concerning the burial. 

' Good-bye, dear Aunt. I cannot console you. It is the 
will of God, that is all. I am not now writing to Sergey. He 
is probably out hunting you know where. So inform him or 
send him this letter.' 

On the day following the funeral he also writes to his brother 
Sergey concerning it : 

' You have, I presume, heard of Nicolenka's death. I am 
sorry for you that you were not here. However painful it is, 
I am glad all this took place in my presence, and that it has 
affected me as it should have done. Not like the death of 
Mitenka, of which I learned when I was not thinking at all 
about him. However, this is quite a different thing. With 
Mitenka were associated memories of childhood and family 
feeling and no more ; but this was, for you and for me, a man 
whom we loved and respected positively more than any one on 
earth. You know the selfish feeling which used latterly to 
take hold of us " the sooner it is finished the better " ; but 
now it is dreadful to write and to recall those thoughts. Till 
the last day, with his extraordinary force of character and con- 
centration of mind, he did everything to avoid being a burden 
to me. On the day of his death he dressed and washed himself, 
and in the morning I found him dressed in his arm-chair. It 
was only about nine hours before his death that he surrendered 
to his illness and requested to be undressed. The first time 
was in the lavatory. I had gone downstairs when I heard his 
door open ; I returned, he was nowhere to be found. At first 
I was afraid of entering the lavatory ; he did not like it, but I 
heard him cry out, " Help me." 

* And on that day he gave himself up and became subdued 
and submissive ; he did not groan, did not criticise any one, 
praised all and kept saying to me, " Thank you, my friend" 
You understand what this means in our relations. I told him 
I had heard how he was coughing in the morning, but I shrank 
from coming in from a foolish kind of shyness. " I am sorry, 
it would have consoled me." He did suffer, but only once, 
two days before his death, he said : " What dreadful sleepless 
nights ! Towards the morning the cough chokes one, a whole 
month ! and what visions one had God only knows. Again 



LETTER TO SERGEY 281 

two nights more like this it is awful." Never once did he 
clearly say he felt the approach of death. But I only mean he 
did not express it. On the day of his death he ordered an 
indoor suit ; yet, at the same time, when I said that, if he did 
not get better, Mashenka and myself would not go to Switzer- 
land, he replied, " Do you really imagine I shall get better ! " 
and that in such a tone that it was evident he felt his position, 
but did not speak of it for my sake, and I did not show what I 
thought for his. Yet, when that day came, I seemed to know, 
and I was with him all the time. He died without any suffer- 
ing, at least so far as we could see. His breath became slower 
and slower and all was over. The next day I went into his 
room and was afraid to uncover the face. I thought it would 
show still greater marks of suffering and fill me with more awe 
than during his illness, but you cannot imagine what a beauti- 
ful face it was, with his best expression of happiness and peace. 

' Yesterday he was buried here. At one moment I thought 
of removing him, and of telegraphing to you, but changed my 
mind. There is no use irritating the wound. I am sorry for 
you that the news will reach you whilst at sport and entirely 
taken up with your usual distraction, and will not affect you as 
it did us. It is well that it should be so. I now feel what I 
have often heard, that when one loses such a one as he was, it 
becomes much less painful to think of one's own death. 

' Your letter came at the very moment of the funeral service. 
No, you will not water the garden with him any more. 

' Two days before his death he read to me his memoirs about 
sport and spoke much about you. He said that God had made 
you a happy man in every way, and yet you torment yourself. 
Only on the second day did I bethink myself of getting his 
portrait taken and a mould of his face. The portrait does 
not catch now his remarkable expression, but the mould is 
beautiful.' 

This death produced a strong impression on Tolstoy, and 
at first repelled him from life and shook his faith in good. 
This is the entry he makes in his diary: 

* \$th Oct. 1860. It will soon be a month since Nicolenka 
died. Dreadfully has this event torn me away from life. 
Again the question : Why ? I am not far from going there. 
Where ? Nowhere. I am trying to write, compelling myself, 
but unsuccessfully, for the sole reason that I cannot attribute 



282 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

to my work that significance which is necessary to have the 
power and the patience to work. During the funeral itself 
the thought came to me to write a materialistic gospel, the life 
of Christ a Materialist.' 

In a letter to Fet of the 17th October 1860, when the first 
impressions of the bereavement had already settled down and 
his inner consciousness again took the ascendency, Tolstoy thus 
describes his brother's death : 

4 1 presume you already know what has happened. On the 
20th of September he died, literally in my arms. Nothing in 
life has ever produced such an impression upon me. He spoke 
the truth when he used to say there is nothing worse than 
death. And when one clearly realises that it is the end of 
all, then there is nothing worse than life either. What should 
one worry about or strive for, if of that which was Nicolas 
Tolstoy nothing has remained? He did not say that he 
felt the approach of death, but I know that he followed its 
every step and knew for certain how much yet remained. A 
few minutes before death he fell into a doze and suddenly 
awoke and murmured with horror, "But what is this?" He 
had seen it, this absorption of oneself in nothing. And if he 
found nothing to catch hold of, what can I find ? Still less. 
And it is certain that neither myself nor any one will so 
struggle with it to the last moment as he did. Two days 
before his death I offered to place a convenience in his room. 
" No," he said, " I am weak, but not so weak as that ; we will 
yet struggle on." 

1 Until the last moment he did not surrender to death, he 
did everything himself, kept endeavouring to work, wrote, 
questioned me about my writings, gave advice. But all this, 
as it appeared to me, he did, not from inner impulse, but on 
principle. One thing, Nature that remained until the last. 
The day before his death he was in his room and fell exhausted 
on his bed by the open window. I came in. He said with 
tears in his eyes 

'"How I have been enjoying this view for the last hour. 
'From dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.' Only 
one thing remains the vague hope that there is in nature, of 
which in the earth one will become a part, something which 
will abide and will be found." 

* All who knew him and saw his last moments say : How 




A FACSIMILE OF A LETTER WRITTEN BY 
LEO TOLSTOY IN 1860 

HIS HANDWRITING HAS CHANGED 
CONSIDERABLY SINCE 



LETTER TO FET 288 

wonderfully, peacefully and quietly he died. But I know how 
dreadfully painful his end was, for not a single feeling of his 
escaped me. A thousand times did I say to myself: "Let the 
dead bury their dead," but let us use to some purpose our 
remaining strength. One cannot attempt to persuade a stone 
to fall upward instead of downward, as attraction takes it. 
One cannot laugh at a joke one is tired of. One cannot eat 
when one has no appetite. Of what avail is anything when to- 
morrow will begin the agonies of death with all the abomination 
of falsehood and self-delusion, and when all will end in nothing, 
in absolute nought for oneself. An amusing situation indeed. 
" Be useful, be virtuous, be happy while you are alive," people 
say to each other ; but thyself and happiness and virtue and 
utility consist in truth. And the truth I have gathered out 
of a life of thirty-two years is that the position we are placed 
in is dreadful. " Take life as it is," they continue, " you have 
yourselves put yourselves in this position." Quite right ! I do 
take life as it is. As soon as men reach the highest degree of 
development, they clearly see that all is bunkum, deceit ; and 
that truth, which after all they value most that this truth is 
awful, that when you see it well and distinctly, you awake 
with horror and say as my brother did : " But what is this ? " 
But, of course, so long as there is a desire to know and express 
the truth, one endeavours to know and express it. This is all 
that has remained for me out of the moral world and higher 
than which I cannot place myself. And this only shall I do, 
but not in the form of your art. Art is a lie, and I can no 
longer love a beautiful lie. 

* I shall pass the winter here for the reason that it matters 
not where one lives. Please write to me. I love you as my 
brother did. He remembered you until the last moment.' 1 

Tolstoy, who had witnessed thousands of deaths at Sebastopol, 
had noted them then only with his ' bodily ' eyes. But here 
the death of a beloved brother made him see death for the 
first time with his ' spiritual ' eyes, and he felt quite overcome. 
Being a sincere man, he frankly acknowledged that he was 
quite crushed by it, and was helpless before its power. This 
truthfulness saved him. From that moment one may say the 
idea of death never left him. It led him to the inevitable 
spiritual crisis and to final victory. 

1 Fet, My Reminitcence*. 



284 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

A month later he wrote the following in relation to another 
death : 

' A boy of thirteen has had a painful death from consumption. 
What for ? The only explanation is given by belief in restitu- 
tion in the hereafter. If that does not exist, then neither does 
justice, and justice is not necessary, and the desire of it is a 
superstition. 

'Justice answers to the most essential demand in man's 
relation to man. The same also does man search for in his 
relation to the universe. Without future life this does not 
exist. The adaptation of the means to the end is the only 
irrefragable law of nature, naturalists will say. But this does 
not exist in the sphere of the human soul love, poetry ; in 
the best spheres this law does not apply. All these features 
have been and have gone without finding expression. Nature 
has far over-reached her end in giving man his aspiration 
towards poetry and love, if her one law is the adaptation of 
the means to the end.' 

Twenty-seven years later he wrote a book On Life, which he 
concluded with these words : 

* The life of man is an aspiration towards welfare ; what he 
aspires to is given to him ; a life which cannot be death, and a 
welfare that cannot be evil.' l 

Interesting facts of Tolstoy's life in his sister's house at 
Hyeres after the death of their brother are given by Sergey 
Plaksin, then a little boy living in the same boarding-house 
with his mother. He thus relates the settlement and life of 
the Tolstoys in the Villa Tosh : 

'The Count's family occupied the upper floor of the villa, 
and Tolstoy had his writing-table in the glass-house with a 
view over the sea. During his stay in Hyeres, Tolstoy often 
visited his sister at her summer residence, spending many days 
there. 

' Being an indefatigable walker, Tolstoy would make out our 
itinerary, always discovering new places for our rambles. One 
day we would go to see the boiling of salt on the peninsula 
Porquerolle ; another day we would climb up the S. M. to a 
small chapel with a statue of the Blessed Virgin, or we marched 
off to see the ruins of a castle called, nobody knew why, " Trou 
des fees." 

1 On Life, p. 177. The Free Age Press. 



REMINISCENCES OF PLAKS1N 285 

' On the way Tolstoy used to tell us children all kinds of 
tales. I remember one about a golden horse, and a gigantic 
tree, from the top of which could be seen all seas and towns. 
Being aware of my weak chest, he often put me on his 
shoulders, and went on with his tales as he walked. Need 
I add that we simply worshipped him ? 

'At dinner in the evening Tolstoy used to relate to our 
good-natured hosts all sorts of amusing nonsense about Russia, 
which they did not know whether to believe or not, unless the 
Countess or my mother sifted the truth from the fiction. 

' Directly after dinner we used to collect, according to the 
weather, either on the wide terrace or in the drawing-room, 
and the bustle would begin. We presented a ballet and opera, 
with a piano mercilessly torturing the ears of our audience; 
" we " being the mothers, Count Tolstoy, and my nurse Liza. 
The ballet and opera were replaced by gymnastics, when 
Tolstoy himself appeared as our professor, and insisted chiefly 
on the development of muscle. 

' He would lie stretched on the floor and make us do the 
same, and then we had to get up without using our arms. 
He arranged a certain construction made of strings, and to our 
greatest delight and joy himself took part in the exercise. 

' Whenever we made too much noise, and the mothers 
appealed to Tolstoy to keep us quiet, he would place us all 
round the table, and order us to bring ink and pens. 

* Here is a sample of our work with Tolstoy. 

' " Look here," he said to us once, " I will teach you." 
' " Teach us what ? " inquired the bright-eyed Lizanka, the 
lady of my heart. 

* Giving no answer to his niece, Tolstoy continued 
" Write ! " 

' " What about, uncle ? " insisted Lizanka. 

* " Listen, I will give you a theme." 

4 " What will you give us ? " went on Lizanka. 

* " A theme ! " repeated Tolstoy firmly. " Write an answer 
to the question : What is the difference between Russia and 
other countries ? Write here, in my presence, and nobody is 
to copy from anybody else ! Do you hear ? " he added sternly. 

' So writing began, as they say, a qui mieux mieux. How- 
ever much Kolya would bend his head on one side, the lines 
always crawled to the right upper corner of the sheet. He 



286 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

panted and puffed, producing strange sounds through his nose, 
but it was of no use for the poor fellow ; yet Tolstoy had 
strictly forbidden us to write on lined paper, declaring it was 
nonsense. " You must write without lines." While we were 
engaged in writing our essays, the Countess and my mother 
would sit down on the sofa and read in a low voice some new 
French book, while Count Tolstoy walked up and down the 
room, sometimes making the nervous Countess exclaim 

' " Why, Lyovochka, you are moving about like a pendulum ! 
I wish you would sit down ! " 

' In half-an-hour our " essays " were ready, and mine 
happened to be the first that our mentor got hold of. He 
tried to read it; but it was hopeless trying to make out 
anything in the lines, all running, as they did, up to the top 
of the page, so he returned me the manuscript, saying 

'"Read aloud yourself; 11 and I loudly proclaimed that 
Russia differs from other countries in this, that at Shrovetide 
people eat pancakes and go out toboganning, and at Easter 
they like to colour eggs. 

'"Bravo, 11 exclaimed Tolstoy, and began to decipher the 
manuscript of Kolya, who asserted that Russia's distinction 
consists in "snow. 11 With Lizanka it was the "troika, 11 a 
team of three horses. 

' The best definition was given by Varia, the eldest of us. 

' As a reward for our evening studies Tolstoy brought us 
water-colours from Marseilles, where he used to go very often 
from Hyeres, and he taught us to paint. 

' Tolstoy used to spend nearly the whole day with us. He 
taught us, joined in our games, took interest in our squabbles, 
discussed them, and decided who was right and who was 
wrong. 1 1 

Here we shall quote a story about Tolstoy's life in Hyeres, 
as related by his sister Marie : 

' Tolstoy was always distinguished by his originality, which 
often amounted to extravagance. 

' We lived on in Hyeres after our brother's death. Tolstoy 
was already well known there, and the Russian community at 
Hyeres and in its neighbourhood sought his acquaintance. 
Once we were invited to an evening party at the house of 
the Princess Dandakof-Rorsakof. All those of any distinction 

1 8. Plaksin, Count L, Tolstoy amongst Children, pp. 15-25. Moscow, 1903. 



LIFE AT HYfeRES 287 

were assembled there, and Tolstoy should have been the 
"lion" of the evening, but, just as if it were intentional, he 
did not arrive till very late. The guests were getting low- 
spirited, the hostess had exhausted her powers of entertain- 
ment, and she thought with grief of her spoiled soiree. 
However, at last, at a very late hour, the arrival of the 
Count Tolstoy was announced. The hostess and the guests 
cheered up, but one may imagine their surprise when Tolstoy 
entered the drawing-room in his travelling dress and wooden 
shoes. He had just been for a long walk ; after the walk he 
came to the party without calling at his own house, and tried 
to assure everybody that wooden shoes were the best and most 
convenient covering for the feet, and advised everybody to get 
a pair. Even then everything was forgiven him, and the 
evening party was the more interesting. Tolstoy was in 
excellent spirits. There was much singing at the party and 
Tolstoy had to play the accompaniment.' 

In Hyeres Tolstoy gave himself up greatly at times to 
literary work. He wrote there The Cossacks, and an article 
On National Education. He remained in Hyeres till the 
beginning of December, and then went vid Marseilles to 
Geneva; there he parted from his sister, who had moved 
there also with her children. From there he started once 
more on his travels, first visiting Italy, Nice, Leghorn, 
Florence, Rome, Naples these were the principal points of 
his journey. In Italy, according to his own words, he ex- 
perienced his first lively impressions of antiquity. He went 
to Paris, again vid Marseilles, in fact he visited this last 
city several times during his foreign travel. The life of 
the great French industrial town seems to have attracted 
and interested him. 

This is how Tolstoy, in one of his articles upon education, 
describes his stay at Marseilles : 

' Last year I was in Marseilles, where I visited all the 
schools for the working people of that city. The proportion 
of the pupils to the population is very great, and the children, 
with few exceptions, attend school three, four, and even six 
years. 

'The school programme consists in learning by heart the 
catechism, biblical and universal history, the four operations 
of arithmetic, French orthography, and book-keeping. In 



288 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

what way book-keeping could form the subject of instruction 
I was unable to comprehend, and not one teacher could explain 
it to me. The only explanation I was able to make to myself, 
when I examined the books kept by the students who had 
finished the course, was that they did not know even three 
rules of arithmetic, but that they had learned by heart to 
operate with figures, and that, therefore, they had also learned 
by rote how to keep books. (It seems to me that there is no 
need of proving that the tenue des livres, Buchhaltung, as it 
is taught in Germany and England, is a science which only 
requires about four hours of explanation in the case of a pupil 
who knows the four operations in arithmetic.) 

* Not one boy in these schools was able to solve the simplest 
problem in addition and subtraction. And yet, they operated 
with abstract numbers, multiplying thousands with ease and 
rapidity. To questions from the history of France they 
answered well by rote, but if I asked anything at haphazard, 
I received such answers as that Henry IV. had been killed by 
Julius Caesar. . . . 

* In Marseilles I also visited a lay school, and also a mon- 
astic school for grown persons. Out of 250,000 inhabitants, 
less than one thousand, of these only two hundred men, 
attend these schools. The instruction is the same : mechani- 
cal reading, which is acquired in a year or in a longer time, 
book-keeping without the knowledge of arithmetic, religious 
instruction, and so forth. After the lay school I saw the daily 
instruction offered in the churches ; I saw the salks (Tasile, in 
which four-year-old children, at a given whistle, like soldiers, 
made evolutions around the benches, at a given command lifted 
and folded their hands, and with strange, quivering voices sang 
laudatory hymns to God and to their benefactors, and I con- 
vinced myself that the educational institutions of the city of 
Marseilles were exceedingly bad. 

' If, by some miracle, a person should visit all these estab- 
lishments, without having seen the people in the streets, in 
their shops, in the cafes, in their home surroundings, what 
opinion would he form of a nation which was educated in such 
a manner ? He certainly would conclude that that nation was 
ignorant, rude, hypocritical, full of prejudices, and almost 
barbarous. But it is enough to enter into relations with, and 
talk to a common man, to be convinced that the French nation 



LIFE AT MARSEILLES 289 

is, on the contrary, almost such as it regards itself to be: 
intelligent, clever, affable, free from prejudices, and really 
civilised. Look at a city workman of about thirty years of 
age : he will write a letter without such mistakes as are 
made at school, often without any mistakes at all; he has 
an idea of politics, consequently of modern history and 
geography; he knows more or less history from novels; he 
has some knowledge of the natural sciences. He frequently 
draws and applies mathematical formulae to his trade. Where 
did he learn all this ? 

' I found an answer to it in Marseilles without any trouble 
when, after the schools, I began to stroll down the streets 
to frequent the dram-shops, cafes chantants, museums, work- 
shops, quays, and bookstalls. The very boy who told me that 
Henry IV. had been killed by Julius Caesar knew very well 
the story of the Three Musketeers and of Monte Cristo. I 
found twenty-eight illustrated editions of these in Marseilles, 
costing from five to ten centimes. To a population of 250,000 
they sell 30,000 of them ; consequently, if we suppose that ten 
people read or listen to one copy, we find that all have read 
them. In addition there are the museum, the public libraries, 
and the theatres. Then the cafes, two large cafe's chantants, 
where any one may enter for fifty centimes worth of food or 
drink, and where there are daily as many as 25,000 people, 
not counting the smaller cafes, which hold as many more : 
in each of these cafes they give little comedies and scenes, 
and recite verses. Taking the lowest calculation, we get one- 
fifth of the population who get their daily oral instruction, 
just as the Greeks and Romans were instructed, in their 
amphitheatres. 

* Whether this education is good or bad is another matter; 
but here it is, this unconscious education, which is so much 
more powerful than the one by compulsion ; here is the un- 
conscious school which has undermined the compulsory school, 
and has made its significance dwindle down almost to nothing. 
There is left of the latter only the despotic form, with hardly 
any inner significance. I say with "hardly any," because I 
exclude the mere mechanical ability of putting letters together 
and writing down words the only knowledge which is carried 
away after five or six years' study. 1 1 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. pp. 21-24. 
VOL. I. T 



290 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

In January 1861 Tolstoy was in Paris. As in every place, 
he here tried to observe the ways of the people. 

'When I was in Paris,' he said to Schyler, 'I generally 
passed half my time in omnibuses, simply to amuse myself in 
observing the people; and I can assure you that in every 
passenger I recognised one of the characters in Paul de Kock. 1 

In his conversation with Schyler, Tolstoy entirely denied 
Paul de Kock's alleged immorality. 

' In French literature, 1 he said to Schyler, ' I highly value the 
novels of Alexandre Dumas and Paul de Kock. 1 

Upon Schyler expressing his consternation, Tolstoy con- 
tinued 

* No, 1 he added, ' don't tell me any of that nonsense about 
Paul de Kock being immoral. He is somewhat improper 
according to English ideas ; he is more or less what the French 
call leste and gaulois, but never immoral. Whatever he may 
say in his writings, and notwithstanding his slight jocose 
liberties, his tendency is completely moral. He is a French 
Dickens ; his characters are all taken from life, and are as 
perfect as Dickens's. 

'As for Dumas, every novelist must understand him. His 
plots are splendid, not to speak of their finish. I can read them 
over and over again, but plots and intrigues are his principal 
aim. 1 

In Paris Tolstoy saw Turgenef, and their interview brought 
them somewhat nearer together. 

After this Tolstoy went to London, and there met Herzen. 
He remained in London for six weeks, and saw Herzen almost 
every day. They had long talks, and discussed the most 
interesting subjects. Unfortunately neither Herzen nor Tolstoy 
made notes of these conversations. 

A few lines describing their first meeting appear in the 
reminiscences of Mme. Tuchkof-Ogaref : 

' Herzen was also visited by L. N. Tolstoy, whose Child- 
hood, Boyhood, and Youth were well known all over the 
reading world. Herzen was delighted with them. He par- 
ticularly admired the boldness of Tolstoy in treating of delicate, 
deeply seated feelings, experienced perhaps by many, but 
expressed by none. As to his philosophic views, Herzen con- 
sidered them weak, hazy, and often unconvincing. 1 * 

1 The Olden Times, 1894. 



MEETING WITH HERZEN 291 

More is told by Herzen's daughter, Natalya Alexandrovna, 
who has a vague recollection of this meeting. She was then 
a little girl, but had already read Tolstoy's works, and was 
enthusiastic about them. Hearing from her father that Tolstoy 
was coming, she asked permission to be present at the inter- 
view. At the appointed day and hour she entered her father's 
study and sat in a chair at the farthest corner, so as not to be 
noticed. Soon after the man-servant announced the arrival of 
Count Tolstoy. With a sinking heart she waited for his appear- 
ance, but great was her disappointment when she beheld a man 
dressed in the latest fashion, of society manners, and who began 
to talk enthusiastically about cock-tights and prize-fights, of 
which he had seen a good deal in London. Not one word from 
the heart, not one word which came up to her expectations 
did she hear during the only meeting at which she was present. 

However, we may surmise that the intercourse of the two 
great Russian writers was not limited to the subject of sport, 
considering that at their farewell meeting Herzen gave Tolstoy 
a letter of introduction to Proudhon. 

While in England, Tolstoy, as always, visited schools ; he 
went, too, to the House of Commons, where he listened to a 
speech of three hours' duration from Palmerston. 

In England he learned of his being appointed a Peace 
Mediator, 1 and on February 19, 1861, the day of the abolition 
of serfdom, he started for home via Brussels, where he visited 
Proudhon. This energetic, independent thinker, himself from 
the ranks of the people, made a powerful impression on 
Tolstoy, and probably influenced his views. One day during 
a conversation Tolstoy said that Proudhon gave him the 
impression of a strong man who has le courage de son opinion. 
The well-known aphorism of Proudhon, La propriety c'est le 
vol, might well have been used as an epigram in any of 
Tolstoy's essays of economics. 

While in Brussels, Tolstoy also visited the Polish historian 
and politician Lelewel, who lived there in old age and great 
poverty. In the same city Tolstoy wrote the story Polipushka. 
On April 13th Tolstoy left Brussels and went to Russia via 
Germany. 

1 Mediators were appointed by the Imperial Government at the eman- 
cipation of the serfs, to arbitrate between the peasants and landowners. 
Trans. 



292 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

In Germany the first town which he visited was Weimar. 
There he was a guest of von Maltitz, the Russian ambassador, 
who introduced him to the Knight-Marshal Bolisy-Morconet, 
and the latter in his turn presented him to the Grand Duke 
Charles Alexander. On April 16th Maltitz also furnished 
him with the means of visiting Goethe's dwelling-place, which 
was then closed to the public. But Tolstoy took more interest 
in Froebel's Kindergartens, which were conducted under the 
management of Minna Schelholm, who was a direct pupil 
of Froebel's; she gladly gave the Russian Count, who was 
so fond of knowledge, information about her teaching and 
showed him how children played and studied. 

Dr. Von Bode recently inserted an interesting article, en- 
titled 'Tolstoy in Weimar,' in a Weimar educational journal 
named Der Saemann (The Sower), in which, besides generally 
known facts, he relates a story by Julius Stoetrer, who knew 
Tolstoy personally, and who died only this year. Tolstoy 
visited his school at Weimar. Here is the story : 

' On Good Friday, just as lessons began, at one o'clock, I 
was in the second class and was about to commence teaching, 
when a pupil of the seminary opened the door and said, peeping 
in, " A gentleman wants to see you." 

4 A gentleman followed without giving his name, and I took 
him for a German, as he spoke as good German as any of us. 
" What lesson are you going to have this afternoon ? " he 
asked. "History first, then German," I replied. 

'"I am very glad to hear it! I have visited schools of 
Southern Germany, France, and England ; and should like to 
get acquainted with those of North Germany too. How many 
grades are there in your school ? " 

' " Seven. This is the second. However, I do not know my 
pupils yet, as I am just commencing, so that I cannot gratify 
your curiosity." 

' " That makes no difference to me. The plan and the method 
of instruction are what I care about. Please tell me what plan 
you follow in teaching history ? " 

* I had worked out my own plan of teaching history and 
explained it to the schoolmaster, which was what I believed 
my guest to be. 

'He produced his memorandum-book from his pocket and 
began hurriedly making notes. Suddenly he said 



REMINISCENCE BY STOETRER 293 

* " It looks as if one thing had been left out in this rather 
elaborate plan. Native history ." 

' " No, it is not omitted. The next grade is devoted to the 
history of the Fatherland." 

' I had to begin the lesson, so I started with telling about 
the four degrees of culture. The foreigner went on making 
notes. When the lesson was over he asked, "What comes 
next?" 

' " I really intended beginning to read German, but if you 
prefer something else it can be changed." 

' " I am glad of this. You see, I've pondered a good deal 
how to make thoughts flow fluently." 

'This expression of his I shall never forget. I tried to 
gratify him, and asked the children to write a short com- 
position. I named a subject, and the children had to write 
a letter on it in their copy-books. This seemed to interest the 
stranger very much, he walked between the benches, took up 
the pupils' copy-books by turns and tried to make out how 
they wrote and what about. 

'Not to distract the children I kept my seat. When the 
work was coming to an end, the foreigner said, " Can I take 
these compositions with me ? They are of the utmost interest 
to me ? " 

' That's a little too much,' thought I, but told him politely 
that it was impossible. "The children," I said, "have pur- 
chased their copy-books, and the price of each is six groschen ; 
Weimar is a poor town, and their parents will be angry if 
they have to get new copy-books." 

' " That can be overcome," he said, and stepped outside. 

' I felt uneasy, so I sent a pupil to ask Herr Monhaupt, the 
headmaster and a friend of mine, to come to our class, as 
something unusual was taking place. Monhaupt came. 

' " You have played a nice trick on me," said I ; " you have 
sent a queer fellow to me who wants to deprive the scholars 
of their copy-books." "I never did such a thing," said 
Monhaupt. "But," I replied, "you are the director of the 
seminary, and he was brought to me by one of your pupils." 

' Monhaupt recollected then that during his absence an official 
of importance had called at his place and told his wife that 
the gentleman who was accompanying him should be assisted 
in every way and shown everything. 



294 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

4 In the meantime the stranger came back carrying a large 
package of writing paper in his hands, which he had bought 
in the nearest shop. When he came I had to introduce him 
to the director, and they exchanged credentials. 

4 " Monhaupt, the director," said the one. 

* " The Count Tolstoy* from Russia," said the other. 

' So this was a Count and not a schoolmaster a Russian 
who spoke German quite fluently. 

' We bade the children re-write their compositions on the 
sheets of paper that had been bought. Tolstoy collected all 
the sheets, rolled them up, and gave them to his servant, who 
was waiting outside. 

* From my place he went to the director of the professional 
school, Trebsti, whom he knew and who had been in Russia/ 

Dr. Bode finished his article with the following words, dedi- 
cated to the memory of his old teacher : 

' One more word concerning Julius Stoetrer. On Easter 
Sunday, 1905, he died, at the age of nearly ninety-three. 
I considered him a remarkable man because he was acquainted 
with the two people whose books have taught me the very best 
I know. He knew Tolstoy and Goethe. It is a fact that 
Stoetrer had conversed with Goethe himself. In 1828 he was 
attending a gymnasium at Weimar, and lived with a school 
friend of his and Eckermann in the same house, within a few 
steps of Goethe's home. Both boys often saw the old man 
sitting by the window. But they wanted to get a closer look 
at him, so they asked Eckermann, who was good enough to give 
them an opportunity. 

' One summer day in 1828 Eckermann admitted both boys 
to Goethe's garden by the back door. The poet was taking 
a stroll in the garden, dressed in a light, home-made coat; 
having noticed the scholars, he came up to them, asked what 
their names were and what they wanted, told them to be 
diligent in their studies, and walked on. 

'There was nothing striking about this conversation, but 
though Stoetrer, being a splendid schoolmaster and an agree- 
able man, had been received with respect all his life, yet he 
had never encountered anything which gave him such lasting 
joy as this talk with his greatest contemporary.' 

While continuing his journey through Germany Tolstoy 
visited Gotha, saw the Froebel Kindergartens, and made 



REMINISCENCE OF AUERBACH 295 

acquaintance with prominent educationists. In Jena he made 
the acquaintance of the young mathematician, Keller, and per- 
suaded him to go to Russia to help him in his educational 
work. He stopped for a short time at Dresden, where he again 
saw Auerbach. He makes the following short, fragmentary 
description of him in his diary : 

* Dresden, April %\st. Auerbach is a most delightful man. 
Em Licht mir eingefangen. His stories : A Juryman ; On the 
First Impression of Nature ; Versoehnung; Abend; The Pastor 
Klauser. 

( Christianity he called the spirit of mankind, higher than 
which there is nothing. He reads verse exquisitely. About 
music as Pflichtloser Genuss. A turning point, according to his 
opinion, towards depravity. The story from Schatzkaestlein. 
He is forty-nine years old. He is straightforward, young, 
believing, free from the spirit of negation.' 

From Dresden he wrote to his aunt Tatiana the following 
lines : 

* I am well and burning with a desire to return to Russia. 
Being in Europe and not knowing when I can return, you will 
understand that I wish to get as much good as possible from 
my stay abroad. And this time I think I have succeeded. I 
am bringing back so many impressions, so much information, 
that I shall have to work a long time before I can put them all 
in order in my head. I intend to remain at Dresden until the 
10/22, and, for Easter, I intend at all events being at Yasnaya. 
From here should navigation not be resumed by the 25th 
I shall go by Warsaw to St. Petersburg, where I must get the 
necessary sanction for a periodical I intend editing at Yasnaya 
Polyana. I am bringing with me a German from the university 
who is a teacher and clerk a very agreeable and well-educated 
man, but still quite young and inexperienced. 1 

On April 22 he was in Berlin, and there met the son of the 
celebrated educationist Diesterweg, the head of the Teachers 1 
Institute. He expected to find him a man of enlightenment 
and free from prejudice, with original views on the subject of 
education, but he proved, to use Tolstoy's expression, to be a 
cold, heartless prig, who thought it possible to develop and 
guide children's souls by means of rules and regulations. 

During the hour they spent in discussing schools and educa- 
tional matters the chief subject of their conversation was the 



296 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

difference in the conception of the words : education, instruc- 
tion, and teaching. 

* Diesterweg spoke with malicious sarcasm of people who made 
such subdivisions, as, according to him, all these ran together. 
And yet we spoke of education, culture^ and instruction, and we 
clearly understood each other.' x 

As we advance we shall see that Tolstoy was dissatisfied 
not only with the views of this educationist, but with all the 
methods he studied in the schools of Western Europe, and that 
he made use of the experience gained in France, England, and 
Germany for his teaching at Yasnaya Polyana only in the 
sense that he worked on still more independent lines than 
before. 

Berlin was the last foreign town in which Tolstoy stayed. 
On April 23, 1861, after a nine months" absence, he recrossed 
the Russian frontier. 

As one might expect, the heavy German Wissenschqft did 
not satisfy Tolstoy, though he applied his best gifts and all 
his soul to the study of it theoretical as well as practical 
enlarging and clearing up all, whatever was not evident, by 
means of conversations with its most prominent representatives, 
and by watching the application of its methods in the schools. 

The study of this department of learning strengthened 
Tolstoy's idea that it was necessary to begin anew from the 
beginning, i.e., that he must, quite independently, start the 
work of educating the people on lines of his own, and he 
plunged into it heart and soul. 

The German theories did not help Tolstoy, because they did 
not satisfy his demands, which were too high, and, with his 
uncompromising character, he could not lower them, and could 
not condescend to any hypocritical, half-hearted acceptance. 

Notwithstanding the rare scrupulousness of German scholars, 
their methods were not based on truth. 

At the foundation of their science, as indeed would be the 
case with any other European science, lies the desire, however 
rarely openly avowed, of acquiring a privileged position for 
themselves and consequent leisure, to be used, no doubt, in 
the interests of the people. But while they are in process of 
acquiring this leisure, the people have to bear deep and un- 
measured suffering, and the result, genuine intercourse, becomes 

i The Complete Worksjof Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. p. 106. 



RETURN TO RUSSIA 297 

impossible. The people, exasperated, or at the best, suffering 
in silence, keep aloof from those benefactors who, without 
understanding them, offend them with their condescension, and 
the best these latter can do is to patch up 1 by some palliatives 
the cruel physical and moral wounds they have caused to the 
people. 

What new impulse Tolstoy gave to the science of education 
we shall try to explain in one of the following chapters. 



CHAPTER XIII 

TOLSTOY AND TUIIGENEF EMANCIPATION OF 

THE SERFS MEDIATION 

Emancipation of the peasants Correspondence of Tolstoy with Turgenef 
and Fet Visit to Fet by Turgenef and Tolstoy Quarrel at the breakfast 
table Conversation about Turgenef's daughter and her governess The 
altercation The parting of the visitors Tolstoy's letter to Turgenef 
demanding satisfaction Tnrgenef's reply Tolstoy's letter with the 
challenge Turgenef's answer Tolstoy's letter to Fet Tolstoy's breaking 
off relations with Fet Reconciliatory letter of Tolstoy to Turgenef 
Absurd rumours about Tolstoy Turgenef's letter to him containing a 
challenge Tolstoy's answer Turgenef's letter to Fet Distorted account 
of the event in Garshin's reminiscences Appointment of Tolstoy as a 
Peace Mediator Confidential correspondence between the marshal of 
nobility, the minister and governor of the province Confirmation of 
Tolstoy's appointment Case of Mme. Artyukhof Case of Mikhailovsky 
Affair of Mme. Zaslonin Affair of Ossipovich Conflict with the Assembly 
of Justices Attitude of other landowners towards Tolstoy Tolstoy's 
dissatisfaction with his work Petition for leave to resign The discharge 
The bailiff's account of Tolstoy's attitude to his duties Recollections 
of Prince D. Obolensky about the elections of 1861 Dinner and toasts 
Tolstoy's carelessness in connection with the formalities of office work. 

AFTER his return from abroad Tolstoy passed through St. 
Petersburg, in the beginning of May he was in Moscow, and 
soon afterwards in Yasnaya Polyana. 

Russia was then celebrating the coming of a new era, the 
liberation of the peasantry from serfdom. 

All those who were honest, educated, and of progressive 
opinions, turned their energy in the direction of social reform. 
One of the first amongst them was Lyof Tolstoy. 

With the beginning of social work his life became so many- 
sided, that one must turn away from the strict chronology of 
the story, and give a parallel description of his principal kinds 
of contemporary activity. Every direction that his labours 
took was connected with facts of his personal and family life. 

At the beginning of the sixties the social activity of Tolstoy 
manifested itself chiefly in two spheres : in the administrative as 

298 



LETTER TO FET 299 

a peace mediator, and in the educational as a teacher, organiser 
of peasant schools, and educational writer. 

We intend to give a description of both branches of 
activity, but before that it is necessary to narrate some 
facts of Tolstoy's personal life. 

On his return home he hastened to call on his good neigh- 
bours, Fet and Turgenef. A correspondence ensued between 
them. Turgenef wrote to Fet from Spasskoye: 

' Fetti carissime ! I send you a note from Tolstoy, to whom 
I wrote to-day asking him to come at the beginning of next 
week without fail, so that we might together invade you in 
your Stepanovka while the nightingales are still singing and 
the spring smiles " bright, beatific impartial." Expect me at 
the end of next week in any case, and till then be quite well, 
don't worry, remembering the words of Goethe, " Ohne Hast, 
ohne Rast" and throw, if only a one-eyed glance, at your 
orphan muse.' 

The letter contained the following note from Tolstoy : 

4 1 embrace you from all my heart, dear friend, for your 
letter and your friendship, and for your being Fet. Turgenef 
I would like to see, but you ten times more. It is so long 
since we have seen each other, and so much has happened to 
both of us since. I am very glad about your farming opera- 
tions when I hear and think of them, and I am a little proud 
that I have, in at least a small measure, contributed towards 
them. We both of us are in a position to understand the 
advantage. A friend is a good thing to have ; yet he may 
die, may for one reason or other go away, or one may be 
unable to keep up with him. But nature is still better . . . 
she is cold and difficult to deal with, and important and 
exacting, but then she is such a friend ! one cannot lose her 
until death, and when one dies one is absorbed in her. I now, 
however, associate less with this friend, I have other interests 
which engage me ; and yet, without the consciousness that this 
friend is here at hand, and that were one to stumble one could 
catch hold of her life would be a sad thing. . . .' 

* In spite of these kind promises,' writes Fet in his Reminis- 
cences, * a carnage appearing at the coppice and turning from 
the crossing to our porch was a surprise to us, and we were 
delighted to embrace Turgenef and Tolstoy. The few build- 
ings on our estate at the time made Turgenef exclaim in 



300 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

wonder, spreading out his large hands : " We look and look, 
where is Stepanovka, but in reality we see a greasy pancake 
and on it a lump, and this is Stepanovka." 

'When the visitors had rested a little from their journey, 
and the hostess had made use of the two hours before dinner 
to give it a more substantial and cheering appearance, we 
plunged into a most lively conversation, such as can be held 
only among men not wearied by life. 1 1 

During this visit an unfortunate event occurred the quarrel 
between Turgenef and Tolstoy. It is very fully described by 
Fet, from whom we borrow the greater part of the description, 
adding a few corrections and filling some gaps, in accordance 
with new materials at our disposal. 

' In the morning at the usual time,' says Fet, ' i.e. about 
eight o'clock, our visitors came down to the dining-room, in 
which my wife was sitting at the samovar at one end of the 
table and I at the other, waiting for my coffee, Turgenef at the 
right and Tolstoy at the left of the hostess. 

' Being aware of the importance which Turgenef attached 
to his daughter's education, my wife inquired whether he was 
pleased with his English governess. 

' Turgenef showered praises on the governess, and among 
other things related that the governess, with truly English 
practicality, asked Turgenef to fix a sum of money which his 
daughter could use for charitable purposes. " Now," said 
Turgenef, "the governess requests my daughter to take the 
old clothes of the poor and, after mending them herself, to 
return them to the owners." 

' " And do you consider this right ? " asked Tolstoy. 

* " Of course I do ; it brings the charitable person nearer to 
real want." 

'"And I think that a richly dressed girl who manipulates 
dirty, ill-smelling rags is acting a false and theatrical farce." 

' " I beg you not to say this," exclaimed Turgenef, his nostrils 
dilating. 

' " Why should not I say what I am convinced of? " answered 
Tolstoy. 

' Turgenef said : " Then you think that I do not bring up 
my daughter properly ? " 

'Tolstoy's answer to this was that he thought what he 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, Part I.'p. 368. 



said, and without venturing upon personalities, expressed 
his thoughts.' 1 

Fet had no time to cry out to Turgenef to desist when, pale 
with wrath, the latter said : ' If you persist in speaking in this 
way, I will box your ears.' With these words he left the table, 
and, catching hold of his head in great excitement, stepped 
into the next room. He came back a second after and said, 
turning to Fet's wife : ' For God's sake forgive my hasty action, 
which I deeply repent.' 

He then left the room again. After this the visitors took 
their leave. 

At the first halting-place from Novosyolky, the property of 
P. N. Borisof, Tolstoy sent a letter to Turgenef with a demand 
for satisfaction. Then he went on further to Boguslav, the 
halting-place half-way between Fet's estate and his own estate, 
Nicolskoye. He sent for pistols and bullets to Nicolskoye and, 
without waiting for an answer to his first letter, sent a second 
one with a challenge. 

In this letter to Turgenef he said that he did not care to 
fight in a vulgar manner, that is to say, when two authors 
come with a third one, with pistols, and the duel ends in 
champagne-drinking he wanted to fight in real earnest, and 
asked Turgenef to come to the frontier with pistols. 

Tolstoy spent a sleepless night waiting for an answer. 

At last came a letter Turgenef's answer to the first letter. 
Turgenef wrote : 

" L. N. TOLSTOY. DEAR SIR, In answer to yours I can only 
repeat what I considered it my duty to declare at Fet's house. 
Being carried away by a feeling of animosity which I could 
not help, and the causes of which it is useless to enter into, 
I offended you without any positive provocation on your part, 
and I asked pardon for it. What happened this morning 
shows clearly that all attempts at rapprochement between such 
different natures as mine and yours will lead to no good, and I 
do my duty to you the more willingly as this letter will pro- 
bably be the last sign of any relations between us. With all 
my heart I trust it will satisfy you, and I give my consent 
beforehand to any use you may care to make of it. 

1 Memoirs of Countess S. A. Tolttoy. 



302 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

* With my respects, I have the honour to remain your faithful 
servant, Iv. TURGENEF. 

4 SPASSKOYE, May 27, 1861.' 

A postscript followed the same day. 

' 10 o'clock P.M. 

'Ivan Petrovich has just brought me back my letter, which 
my servant sent by mistake to Novosyolky instead of forwarding 
it to Boguslav. I earnestly beg you to forgive this unexpected 
and disagreeable misadventure. I hope my messenger will 
still find you in Boguslav.' 

Tolstoy wrote to Fet probably on the same day : 

' I could not refrain from opening yet another letter from 
Turgenef in answer to mine. I wish you all that is good in 
your relations with this man, but I despise him. I have 
written to him, and now have nothing more to do with him, 
except so far as, should he desire it, to give him satisfaction. 
Notwithstanding all my apparent indifference, I did not feel at 
my ease, and I felt that I ought to demand from Turgenef a 
more positive apology, which I did in my letter from Novo- 
syolky. Here is his answer, which I accepted as satisfactory, 
merely answering that the grounds upon which I excuse him 
are not opposite features in our characters, but such as he 
can himself understand. 

' Besides this, owing to his delay, I have sent another letter 
in rather harsher terms and with a challenge : to this I have 
received no answer, but, if I do receive one, I will send it to 
you unopened. So this is the end of an unfortunate business ; 
if it gets beyond the threshold of your house, please let it pass 
with this accompaniment.' 

Meanwhile Turgenef thus answered his challenge : 

' Your servant says that you desire to receive an answer to 
your letter, but I don't see what I can add to what I have said 
already. Maybe, when I acknowledge your right to demand 
satisfaction by arms, you will prefer to be satisfied with my 
expressed and repeated apology. As to that, it is for you to 
choose. I can say without affectation that I would willingly 
face your fire in order to wipe out the effect of my really insane 
words. The fact of my saying what I did is so foreign to the 



QUARREL WITH TURGENEF 303 

habits of all ray life that I can ascribe it to nothing but the 
irritation caused by the extreme and constant antagonism of 
our views. This is not an apology, I mean, not a justification, 
but an explanation. Such incidents being ineffaceable and 
irreparable, I consider it my duty, in parting from you for 
ever, to repeat once more that in this affair you were right 
and I was wrong. Let me add, that it is no question of my 
willingness or unwillingness to show myself a brave man simply, 
but whether I acknowledge your right to challenge me to a 
duel according to usual formalities, of course, i.e. with seconds 
as well as to forgive me. You have chosen what you prefer, 
and to me remains to abide by your decision. 
1 Again allow me to assure you of my respect. 

Iv. TURGENEF.' 

In his desire to reconcile his friends, Fet very likely attempted 
something of the kind, judging by the following extract from 
his memoirs : 

* L. Tolstoy has sent me the following note : 

* " Turgenef . . . which I beg you to transmit to him as 
accurately as you transmit to me his nice utterances, notwith- 
standing my repeated requests not to speak of him. 

' " COUNT L. TOLSTOY. 

4 " And I beg you yourself not to write to me any more, as I 
will not open your letters, any more than those of Turgenef." 

' I need not say,' remarks Fet, * that I did my best to bring 
the affair, which unfortunately occurred in my house, to a clear 
issue. For this purpose I went to Spasskoye. 

' I remember the indescribably sarcastic mood of the immortal 
Turgenef. " What an unheard-of idea," he exclaimed, " to 
demand that all shall be of our opinion, and, if that can- 
not be, to demand a formal apology and conclude the matter 
with pistols." So said the uncle to me, but what he said to 
Ivan Sergey ich I don't know. As to my efforts to patch up 
the affair, they ended, as one sees, in a formal rupture with 
Tolstoy, and at the present moment I cannot remember how 
our friendly relations were renewed.' * 

Some time elapsed, says the Countess S. A. Tolstoy, and, 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, Part I. p. 368. 



304 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

while in Moscow, Tolstoy was one day in one of those charm- 
ing moods which sometimes came over him, full of humility 
and love, and wishing and striving for the good and great. 
While in this mood he could not bear to have an enemy. 
Therefore he wrote a letter to Turgenef on September 25, in 
which he expressed his regret that their relations were hostile. 
* If I offended you/ he wrote, ' forgive me ; I am very unhappy 
to know I have an enemy. 1 

This letter was sent to the bookseller Davidof, who had 
business transactions with Turgenef. For some reason it was 
not delivered to Turgenef in time, and meanwhile he was 
alarmed by certain silly rumours, which he thus related to Fet 
in his letter of November 8th from Paris : 

* By-the-bye, " one more tale, the last one," concerning the 
unfortunate affair with Tolstoy. On my way through St. 
Petersburg I heard from " reliable people " (Oh, those reliable 
people !) that copies of the last letter of Tolstoy to me, the one 
in which he " despises " me, are circulating all over Moscow, 
and that these copies are spread about by Tolstoy himself. 
This made me very angry, and I have sent him a challenge 
from here for the time of my return to Russia. Tolstoy replied 
that the circulation of copies is a sheer fiction, and at the same 
time he enclosed a letter in which he asked forgiveness and re- 
nounced his challenge. Of course this must put an end to the 
affair, and I only ask you to inform him (for he writes that any 
address to him on my part he would consider an offence) that 
I renounce my challenge and so on, and I hope that all this is 
buried for ever. His letter (the apologetic one) I destroyed, 
but the other one, which, according to him, had been sent 
through the bookseller Davidof, I have not received at all. 
And now to all this affair de profundisS l 

Of this letter to Tolstoy, mentioned in the letter to Fet, we 
find the following note in Tolstoy's diary : 

' October. Yesterday I received a letter from Turgenef in 
which he accuses me of telling people that he is a coward, and 
says that I distribute copies of my letter. I wrote to him that 
this was nonsense, and also sent him a letter saying, " You 
call my action dishonourable, and desire to give me a regular 
slap in the face, but I regard myself as to blame, beg your 
pardon, and retract my challenge." ' 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, Part I. p. 381. 



QUARREL WITH TURGENEF 305 

'This letter was written, 1 adds Countess Tolstoy in her 
memoirs, 'under the impulse of the idea that, if Turgenef 
is devoid of the sense of personal honour, and needs honour 
before the public, he may use this letter ; but that he (Tolstoy) 
is above it, and despises public opinion. Turgenef was weak 
enough to agree to it, and replied that he considered himself 
satisfied. 1 

In another letter to Fet of January 7, 1862, Turgenef writes 
about the same : 

' And now, to ask a plain question : have you seen Tolstoy ? 
Only to-day have I got the letter he sent me in September 
through the bookstores of Davidof (the punctuality of Russian 
tradesmen is remarkable indeed !). In this letter he speaks of 
his intention to offend me, apologises, &c. But almost at the 
same time, in consequence of different gossip, of which, I believe, 
I informed you, I had sent him my challenge, &c. All this drives 
one to the conclusion that our constellations move discordantly 
in the ether, and it would be best for us, as he proposes, not to 
meet. But you may write, or tell him (when you see him) that, 
without phrases and witticisms, I like him very much at a 
distance, I respect him and watch his career with sympathy, 
but when we come together everything takes a different aspect. 
It cannot be helped ! We must go on living as if we existed 
on different planets or in different ages. 1 1 

Probably Fet said something to Tolstoy in the way of a 
message from Turgenef, and again caused irritation against 
himself, of which he informed Turgenef, for the latter wrote to 
him, among other things, the following : 

1 PARIS, January 14, 1862. 

' DEAREST AFANASI AFANASYEVICH, In the first place I feel it 
necessary to apologise to you for the utterly unexpected tile 
(tutte, as the French have it) which fell on your head because 
of my letter. It is a slight consolation to me that I could not 
foresee such a sally from Tolstoy, but intended it all for the 
best. It proves, however, that it is a wound not to be touched 
at all. Once more please forgive my involuntary sin. 1 2 

With this we may wind up the narrative of a deplorable 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, Part I. p. 384. 

2 Ibid. 

VOL I. U 



306 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

incident, which like a clap of thunder discharged the tension 
of the atmosphere between the two great men, and perhaps 
helped afterwards to bring them together on a more sincere 
and sounder basis. 

We must add that the description of this matter in Garshin's 
4 Reminiscences of Turgenef, 1 printed in the Historical Review 
for November 1883, is full of misstatements as to place and 
time, and was probably not gathered from first-hand sources. 

In 1861 and 1862 Tolstoy occupied the post of a Peace 
Mediator of the fourth section of the Krapivensky District. 
His employment in this capacity is hardly known in litera- 
ture, fortunately its memory is still green among some 
contemporaries, who were at that time intimate with him. 
Their remarks are undoubtedly of great interest. 

The reputation which Tolstoy won as a manager of his own 
estate on new principles, i.e. those of one who does not oppress 
and sweat his peasants, had almost proved an obstacle to his 
getting the above-mentioned appointment. Correspondence 
passed and information was given in a sense unfavourable to 
him in reference to the post. We give here the more im- 
portant extracts from the material in our possession concern- 
ing this affair. The Marshal of Nobility of the province, V. 
P. Minin, wrote to the Minister of the Interior, Valuyef, com- 
plaining of the Governor of the Tula province, Lanskoy, for 
having appointed Tolstoy Peace Mediator. These are his 
words : 

' Being aware of a hostile attitude to him on the part of 
the Krapivensky Nobility, due to his management of his own 
estate, the Marshal is afraid lest, with the Count's appoint- 
ment to the post, some unpleasant conflicts may take place, 
which may hinder the peaceful settlement of such an important 
matter. 1 

Then the Marshal pointed out the transgression by the 
Governor of certain formalities as regards the appointment, 
hoping that these might serve to annul it. 

The Minister of the Interior replied to the Marshal of the 
Nobility that there must be some misunderstanding, and that 
he would write about it to the Governor. 

In reply to the Minister's inquiry the Governor sent the 
following interesting confidential report, which shows that at 
that time the high official spheres marched in advance of 



AS PEACE MEDIATOR 307 

Russian society, which had not yet awakened to the situa- 
tion : 

(Confidential.) 

'To this I have the honour to add, that what gave rise 
to the present correspondence may be the appointment of 
Count L. Tolstoy as a Peace Mediator of the Krapivensky 
district, contrary to the opinion of the Marshals of Nobility, 
both of the province and the district, who object to his election 
on the alleged ground that he is disliked by the local nobility. 

* Being acquainted with Count Tolstoy, and knowing him 
for a well-educated man, and one in great sympathy with the 
present reform, and taking also into consideration the ex- 
pressed desire of some landowners of the Krapivensky district 
to have him as their Peace Mediator, I cannot replace him 
by another person quite unknown to me. The more so as 
Count Tolstoy was pointed out to me by your Excellency's 
predecessor, 1 among other persons, as one enjoying the best 
reputation. LIEUTENANT-GENERAL DAROGAN.' 

After this followed the confirmation of the appointment 
as Peace Mediator by the Senate. 

Interesting papers have lately appeared relating to Tolstoy's 
activity as Peace Mediator. 

These materials throw a new light on his personal character, 
as in all the suits of which records are produced he appears 
as a true champion of the peasants against the harsh tyranny 
of the landowners and police-officers, and one may easily believe 
that the fears of the Marshal of the Nobility were not without 
foundation. 

Out of the fifteen suits, quoted in those papers, we will 
choose the most characteristic. 

In one case, the landowner, one Mme. Artyukhof, com- 
plained of her late house servant, Mark Grigoryef, that he 
had left her, considering himself a ' free man.' 

On this Tolstoy wrote : 

' Mark can go away immediately with his wife wherever he 
likes, in virtue of my orders. I beg you (1) to compensate 

1 Lanskoy. 



308 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

him for the three months and a half he has worked for you 
illegally since the announcement of the Act, and (2) to com- 
pensate his wife for the assault upon her, which was still more 
illegal. If you are dissatisfied with my resolution, you have 
a right to lodge a complaint with the Assembly of the Justices 
of the Peace, and with the Council of the Province. I can 
give you no further explanations. With my best respects, I 
remain, yours faithfully, COUNT L. TOLSTOY.' 

Mme. Artyukhof lodged a complaint before the Assembly 
of Peace Mediators. As the Assembly consisted of Peace 
Mediators who disapproved of Tolstoy's proceedings, they 
set aside his decision in this case, as in many others, and 
forwarded the case to the Provincial Court. Fortunately his 
course was there viewed with sympathy, and his decision in 
this case, as in many others, was confirmed. 

So Mark Grigoryef was set free, and his wife was com- 
pensated for the assault committed by Mme. Artyukhof. 

An interesting affair is the case of the damage done by 
peasants to a field belonging to one Mikhailovsky. 

The peasants tilled the landowner's field, and during their 
rest allowed the horses to graze in the meadow of a neigh- 
bouring landowner. The latter complained to Tolstoy. Tol- 
stoy first asked the landowner to forgive the peasants this 
trespass, hoping probably thus to improve the relations between 
the landowner and the peasants, who had cause to complain 
of him. The landowner refused to overlook the damage done, 
and requested an assessment of it to be made and the fine to 
be paid to him, claiming that it should be eighty roubles. 

A long correspondence arose out of this case. The land- 
owner Mikhailovsky, in complaining to the Assembly of Peace 
Mediators, described Tolstoy's action in this way : 

'Hereupon Count Tolstoy arrived at the village Panino, 
invited three peasants of the nearest village, Borodino, as 
referees, and they went together to the damaged meadow. 
The referees to whom he proposed to assess the damages 
due for the meadow, declared that about three dessyatms l of 
the meadow had been damaged, and the fine they considered 
right would be ten roubles per dessyatin. To this Count 
Tolstoy did not agree, and proposed to them to make it only 

1 A dessyatin is about three acres. 



AFFAIR OF MME. ZASLONIN 309 

five roubles. The referees did not contradict Count Tolstoy ; 
and so the case of the Panino peasants damaging the land- 
owner's meadows was settled by Tolstoy in this way, that the 
peasants had to pay the landowner Mikhailovsky for the three 
dessyatins five roubles each." 

Considering this and other proceedings of Count Tolstoy to 
be illegal, Mikhailovsky said : ' I am firmly convinced that a 
just Government, in its solicitude for the improvement of the 
status of the peasants, would not allow that such improvement 
and enrichment of the peasants should be carried out in the 
manner put in practice by the Peace Mediator, Count Tolstoy. 1 

The District Assembly of the Justices, in view of Mikhail- 
ovsky's petition, requested an explanation from Tolstoy, but 
in a paper under No. 323, of September 16, 1861, he replied 
that * he did not think it necessary to give any information as 
regards the petition of Mikhailovsky, in virtue of paragraphs 
29, 31, and 32 of the regulation Act in connection with the 
courts of peasants 1 affairs. 1 The resolution passed in this case 
by the District Assembly, and presented to the Provincial 
Assembly, was dismissed by the latter without any written 
report, with the following remark : ' To be added to the 
case. 1 

Another case, slight as it is, shows us clearly how far 
Tolstoy was from having selfish aims in all these proceedings, 
and how ready he was to acknowledge a mistake of his own, 
being guided in his actions only by a sincere wish for justice. 

A certain Mme. Zaslonin, a landowner, complained of 
Tolstoy to the Assembly for having issued a leave-of-absence 
passport to her house serf. Tolstoy was present at the 
examination into the affair, and owned that he committed 
a blunder, and offered to compensate the lady for the loss 
she had suffered. 

However, these affairs did not all end in such a satisfactory 
manner for Tolstoy, as, in making himself the champion of the 
peopled rights, he had to face a whole party of serf-owners, 
who firmly stuck to their old customs and privileges. Thus 
the landowner Ossipovich and his former serfs had a dispute 
as follows : Part of the village had been burnt, and the land- 
owner would not allow the peasants to build on the same spot, 
but requested them to move their homesteads, refusing at the 
same time to give them proper allowance for new buildings, 



310 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

and to free them from obligatory work, and give them the 
time necessary for restoring their ruined homes. 

Tolstoy could see that on the one hand the demands of the 
peasants were reasonable, but on the other he knew the pitiful 
situation of the ruined small landowner, and did not think 
him able to satisfy the demands of the peasants. He appealed 
therefore to the nobles of the district to help their colleague 
to extricate his needy peasants out of the difficulty, or simply 
to help the peasants directly. Both his proposals were dis- 
missed, and the peasants were urged to comply with all the 
demands of their landowner. 

The suit dragged on for some time, going from one court of 
justice to another. Tolstoy saw that the case would be decided 
against the peasants, and that his opinion would be dis- 
regarded. He then protested again, and when, during the 
hearing of the case before the Assembly, he saw that the 
members of the tribunal intentionally misrepresented the 
affair, he left the Assembly without signing the resolutions 
relating to cases which had been heard in his presence, being 
determined to exhaust all means to procure a decision in the 
peasants' favour. The Assembly lodged a complaint against 
him with the Provincial Assembly, but this complaint met 
with no attention. 

Again we see how Kostomarof got possession of the peasants' 
holdings by declaring them to be his house servants ; that is to 
say, to belong to a section of the peasants whom the new law 
did not provide with land. Tolstoy took their part, and after 
many trials he succeeded in securing their holdings for them. 

The poorer landowners resorted to all sorts of subterfuges 
in order to give to the peasants the smaller allotments of land, 
and that of the worst quality. As soon as Tolstoy noticed 
this tendency, he refused to confirm the charters regulating 
the mutual relations of landowners and peasants, and tried 
his best to annul them. 

We need hardly say that Tolstoy's sympathy for the pea- 
sants was exceedingly distasteful to the landowners. They 
proclaimed that Tolstoy had thrown a seed of discord between 
the landowners and the peasantry, and had finally destroyed 
the patriarchal relations between them ; that he was provoking 
rebellion amongst the peasants, who were encouraged by him 
to commit many unlawful acts; that even the officials of the 



RESIGNS APPOINTMENT 311 

peasants 1 administrations, in order to ingratiate themselves 
with Tolstoy, did not perform the duties imposed upon them 
by the law, so that the result was perfect anarchy in the 
villages, and innumerable irregularities such as stealing, law- 
lessness, and so forth. 

Of course, Tolstoy's proceedings as Peace Mediator made 
the peasants put implicit confidence in him, and this annoyed 
the landowners still more, so that he was faced with growing 
difficulties in his task, and had soon to cease his efforts in the 
hard struggle. 

He felt, in fact, very much dissatisfied. As early as July 
1861 he wrote in his diary : 

'The post of arbitrator has given me little material for 
observation, and has definitely spoilt my relations with the 
landowners, besides upsetting my health.' 

In February 12, 1862, Tolstoy wrote to the Provincial Court 
of Justice on peasants' affairs : 

* As the appeals against my decisions which have been made 
to the Provincial Court have no valid ground, and yet these 
cases and many others have been and are still being decided 
against my opinion, so that almost every j udgment pronounced 
in the district under my charge is set aside, and even the 
Starshinas 1 are removed by the Court of Arbitrators, under 
such circumstances, giving rise to a want of confidence in the 
arbitrator on the part of both peasants and landowners, it 
becomes not only useless but impossible for the arbitrator to 
continue to act. I respectfully request the Provincial Court to 
have the above-mentioned appeals investigated by one of its 
members, and at the same time I find myself obliged to inform 
the Provincial Court that until such investigation takes place I 
do not think it convenient to carry on my duties, and Jiave 
therefore transferred them to a deputy.' 

It was on March 9 that Tolstoy had accepted the office 
of Peace Mediator, but he only performed his duties up to 
April 30, when, under the pretext of illness, he handed them 
over to the eldest candidate for that post in the 4th Division. 
The Senate at last informed the Governor of Tula on May 26, 
in a document No. 24,124, that a resolution had been passed to 
discharge the artillery lieutenant, Count Lyof Tolstoy, on the 
ground of ill-health from the duties of Peace Mediator of the 

1 Elected peasant officials over groups of villages. 



312 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Krapivensky District, and that this had been confirmed by the 
Imperial Senate. 1 

The following story, taken from the biography of Loewenfeld, 
shows how groundless were the assertions of the landowners as 
to Tolstoy's favouritism towards the peasants. One can see 
from it that Tolstoy had defended the demands of the land- 
owners with equal fairness when he considered them just. 

4 A witness of Tolstoy's proceedings as a Peace Mediator, a 
German from the Baltic Provinces and bailiff of a landowner 
in the Tula Province, had occasion to call upon him on a 
matter of business at Yasnaya Polyana on his patron's behalf. 
What gave occasion to the visit was a disagreement on certain 
points relating to peasant allotments. This could only be 
settled on the spot, and the Peace Mediator therefore went in 
April to the estate of his neighbour, accompanied by a peasant 
boy of twelve years of age his little land surveyor, as the 
Count jokingly called him, because he always carried with him 
the measuring-chain. Tolstoy received a peasant deputation, 
consisting of two elders and one member of the village council, 
who came to see him to talk over the matter. 

* " Well, friends, what do you want ? " said Tolstoy. 

* The delegates stated the request of the village. Instead of 
the pasture ground appointed to them, they wanted another 
piece of land so as to increase their allotment. 

* " I am very sorry, but I cannot do as you wish," said the 
Count. " If I did so, I should cause a great loss to your land- 
lord," and he proceeded to explain quietly the position of the 
matter. 

' " Well, arrange it somehow, little father," said one of the 
delegates. 

* " No, I can do nothing," repeated the Count. 

4 The peasants exchanged glances, scratched their heads, and 
persisted saying : " Do it somehow, little father." 

* " If you only would, little father," continued the spokesman, 
" you are sure to be able to manage it." 

' The other two delegates nodded their heads approvingly. 
' The Count crossed himself and said : " In the name of holy 
God, I swear that I cannot help you." 

' But when even after this the peasants still repeated, " Do 

1 D. T. Oospensky, Archive Materials for the Biography of Count L. 
N. Tolstoy.' Russian Thought, 1903, vol. ix. 



PRINCE OBOLENSKY 313 

it somehow, little father, be so kind," the Count turned in 
vexation to the bailiff and said : " One may be an Amphion 
and move mountains and forests sooner than convince these 
peasants." 

'During the whole interview, which lasted about an hour, 
says our authority, the Count was the personification of patience 
and friendliness. The obstinacy of the peasants did not draw 
a harsh word from him. 1 1 

The memoirs of a friend and relative of Tolstoy, Prince 
Dmitry Dmitrievich Obolensky, refer to the same period : 

* In 1861 new elections took place in Tula, and there was 
to be a dinner in honour of those Peace Mediators who took 
part in the elections. In the very same reception hall where 
Volotsky and Prince Cherkassky had quarrelled and were on 
the point of fighting a duel about something connected with 
the peasant question, Volotsky first expressed his sympathy 
with Cherkassky as his colleague, also a Peace Mediator. . . . 
This dinner was memorable to me. My uncle, T. A. Rayevsky, 
as the oldest man present, was chairman. Some of the land- 
owners subscribed to the dinner, and of course I was one of the 
company. I had to sit next to Count L. N. Tolstoy, a Peace 
Mediator at the time, whom I then knew very well. 

' The first toast was naturally the Tsar-Liberator, and it was 
received with great enthusiasm. 

' " I drink to it with particular pleasure," said Count Tolstoy 
to me. " No other toasts are needed, for in truth it is to the 
Emperor only that we owe the emancipation." 

1 However, other toasts followed. Especially successful was 
the toast, proposed by P. F. Samarin, to the Russian people a 
very awkward subject at the time. But Peter Feodorovich had 
cleverly pointed out in his speech that almost everywhere in 
the Tula Province the relations with the peasants were on a 
very good footing, because, the landowners having used their 
power moderately, the relations in question always had been 
good, and at present were still better than before. And this 
was true : the reform went off peacefully in our province, as 
compared with others. 

' In the year of the abolition of serfdom,' continued Obolen- 
sky, * Count Tolstoy started his school in Yasnaya Polyana, in 
which I took great interest. I was in the habit of visiting the 

1 G. Loewenfeld, Count Tolstoy, his Life and Works, p. 228. 



314 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Count pretty often, and sometimes in the winter would go out 
hunting with him, stopping for rest in places a long way off. I 
have had delightful times with him. Who would recognise in 
the present venerable philosopher the reckless sportsman who 
used to leap ditches and ravines with great agility, and to spend 
days at a distance? It is difficult to imagine a better com- 
panion. But I believe the Count was a poor Peace Mediator, 
because of his absence of mind. I very well remember the first 
charter of regulations coming from him. It had been sub- 
scribed in this way : 

' At the request of So-and-so, because of their illiteracy, the 
house-serf So-and-so signed the charter of regulations. No 
name was added. Just as the Count dictated : " Write, I 
have signed for So-and-so," the house-serf had written word by 
word, not mentioning the name either of the peasant or his 
owner. And the Count, without reading what the house-serf 
had written, sent off the charter, duly sealed, to the Provincial 
Court. My stepfather, who was then a member of the Court, 
and at whose house I lived, received this charter. He only 
shrugged his shoulders over such a document.' 1 

Tolstoy proved incapable in chancellor's office work, but his 
heart and brain worked well as Peace Mediator, and he has 
left kind memories of his activity in this direction. But he 
had greater success, though he met with no fewer obstacles, in 
the matter of education, of which we treat in the following 
chapters. 

1 Prince Obolensky, Reminiscences- The Russian Archive, 1894. 



CHAPTER XIV 

EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY OF TOLSTOY FOUNDATION 

OF THE SCHOOL THEORIES 

Firtt attempt at founding a school in 1849 Return to school work in 1859-60 
Tolstoy's preparation for the work Search for answer to the questions 
what to teach and how to teach Indifference of educationists Number 
of schools opened Conditions of their opening List of teachers 
Attitude of the children towards the rules of the school Theories 
About instruction of the people The people's resistance To use com- 
pulsion or to change the system ? Possible reasons for using compulsion 
Reasons : religious, philosophic, experimental, and historic The 
instability of all of them Appeal to Russian educationists Criterion of 
education Freedom Method of instruction, experiment Aims of the 
review ' Yasnaya Polyana ' Appeal to the public Contents of the review 
Its epigraph On methods of teaching to read and write Reading not 
the first step of education Reading and writing, a craft General method 
Striving after improvement Education and instruction Definitions : 
education is compulsory, instruction free Causes of compulsion : family, 
religion, state, society Admissibility of the first three causes Weakness 
of the fourth Causes of the error, the people's silence Means of educa- 
tional compulsion, the schools True meaning of a university Criticism 
of existing universities What is to be done ? Pessimistic assertion 
A ttitude of critics Refutation by Markof and Tolstoy's reply Progress, 
and definition of the word instruction There is no progress Criticism of 
official project Its unsuitability to the needs of the Russian people 
Restraint of natural developments of instruction Conclusion adverse to 
the conclusion of Markof. 

TOLSTOY had several times started on educational work. 

As far back as 1849, when he returned to Yasnaya Polyana 
from St. Petersburg, along with other institutions and reforms by 
means of which he tried to approach the people, he established 
a school for peasant children. From his Landowner's Morning 
we know how unsuccessful these first attempts were. With his 
departure for the Caucasus the school was closed. He reopened 
it on his return to Yasnaya Polyana after his resignation and 
his first journey abroad, as was mentioned in the proper place. 

On recommencing his school-work, Tolstoy soon realised his 
lack of theoretical knowledge, and hastened to fill the void in 

315 



316 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

his education by reading, foreign travel, personal relations 
with prominent educationists, and practical work in different 
schools. Feeling himself thus restored, he for the third time 
and with better zeal turned to his school, and carried it up to 
a remarkably high level. 

In one of his educational articles he thus relates his endea- 
vours and preparations to found a school : 

' Fifteen years ago, when I took up the matter of popular 
education without any preconceived theories or views on the 
subject, with the one desire to advance the matter in a direct 
and straightforward manner, I, as a teacher in my school, was 
at once confronted with two questions : (1) What must I 
teach ? and (2) How must I teach it ? ... 

' In the whole mass of people who are interested in education, 
there exists, as there has existed before, the greatest diversity 
of opinions. Formerly, just as now, some, in reply to the 
question of what ought to be taught, said that, outside the 
rudiments, the most useful information to give in a primary 
school is taken from the natural sciences ; others, even as now, 
that this was not necessary, and was even injurious ; while 
some, as now, proposed history, or geography, and others 
denied their necessity ; some proposed the Ecclesiastic-Slavonic 
language and grammar, to be taken in connection with religion, 
others found that, too, superfluous, and ascribed a prime im- 
portance to " development.' 1 On the question of how to teach, 
there has always been a still greater diversity of answers. 
The most diversified methods of instructing in reading and 
arithmetic have been proposed. . . . 

* When I encountered these questions and found no answer 
for them in Russian literature, I turned to the literature of 
Europe. After having read what had been written on the 
subject, and having made the personal acquaintance of the 
so-called best representatives of the science of education in 
Europe, I not only failed to find anywhere an answer to the 
question I was interested in, but I convinced myself that this 
question does not even exist in connection with any science of 
Education as such ; as every educationist of every given school 
firmly believed that the methods he used were the best, because 
they were founded on absolute truth, and that it would be 
useless for him to look at them with a critical eye. 

' However, because, as I said, I took up the matter of popular 



ATTEMPT TO FOUND SCHOOL 317 

education without any preconceived notions, or else because I 
took up the matter without getting hold of laws from a dis- 
tance as to how I ought to teach, but became a schoolmaster 
in a village popular school in the backwoods, I could not 
reject the idea that there must of necessity exist some criterion 
by means of which I could solve the question what to teach 
and how to teach it. Should I teach, by heart, the psalter or 
the classification of the organisms ? Should I teach according 
to the sound-alphabet, taken from the Germans, or simply use 
the prayer-book ? In the solution of this question I was aided 
by a certain tact in teaching, with which I am gifted, and 
especially by that close and passionate interest which I took in 
the subject. 

* When I entered at once into the close and direct relations 
with those forty tiny peasants that formed my school (I call 
them tiny peasants because I found in them the same charac- 
teristics of perspicacity, the same immense store of information 
from practical life, of jocularity, simplicity, and loathing for 
everything false, which distinguishes the Russian peasant), when 
I saw their susceptibility, their readiness to acquire the informa- 
tion which they needed, I felt at once that the antiquated 
church method of instruction had outlived its usefulness, and 
was of no use to them. I began to experiment on other pro- 
posed methods of instruction; but, because compulsion in 
education, both by my conviction and my character, are repul- 
sive to me, I did not exercise any pressure, and, the moment I 
noticed that something was not readily received, I did not put 
any compulsion on the pupils, but looked for something else. 
From these experiments it appeared to me, and to those 
teachers who gave instruction with me at Yasnaya Polyana 
and in other schools on the same principles of freedom, that 
nearly everything which in the educational world was written 
about schools was separated by an immeasurable abyss from 
the truth, and that many of the proposed methods, such as 
object-lessons, the teaching of natural sciences, the sound 
method, and others, called forth contempt and ridicule, and 
were not accepted by the pupils. We began to look for those 
contents and those methods which were readily taken up by 
the pupils, and hit upon that which forms my method of 
instruction. 

' But this method stood in a line with all other methods, 



318 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

and the question why it was better than the rest remained 
unsolved as before. . . . 

' At that time I found no sympathy in all the educational 
literature, indeed not even any contradiction, but simply com- 
plete indifference in regard to the question which I put. There 
were some favourable criticisms of certain trifling details, but 
the question itself evidently did not interest any one. I was 
young then, and this indifference grieved me. I did not 
understand that with my question, " How do you know what 
to teach and how to teach ? " I was like a man who, let us say, 
in a gathering of Turkish pashas, who were discussing the 
question in what manner they could collect the greatest amount 
of revenue from the people, should make them the following 
proposition : " Gentlemen, before considering how much revenue 
to collect from each, we must first analyse the question on 
what your right to exact that revenue is based.' 1 Obviously 
all the pashas would continue their discussion of the measures 
of extortion, and would reply only with silence to his irrelevant 
remark.' l 

Tolstoy's letters from abroad show the interest which he 
took in the school while he was away. During the whole of 
the time the teaching in the school went on without ceasing. 
It continued with greater regularity after his return to Yas- 
naya Polyana in the spring of 1861 and in 1862, as Tolstoy 
says in his article on Education : 

* Fourteen schools were opened in a district containing ten 
thousand souls when I was a rural judge, besides which there 
existed about ten schools in the district among the clericals 
and on the manors among the servants. In the three remain- 
ing districts of the county there were fifteen large and thirty 
small schools among the clericals and manorial servants. . . . 

' Everybody will agree that, leaving aside the question of 
the quality of instruction, such a relation of the teacher to the 
parents and peasants is most just, natural, and desirable.' 2 

Incidentally we may mention the names of the teachers of 
the ten schools under Tolstoy's jurisdiction where his views on 
the education of the people were supported. In the Goioven- 
kovsky school the teacher was one Alexander Serdobolsky, a 
pupil of the Kazan gymnasium ; in the Trasnensky school, Ivan 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. xii. pp. 284-288. 

2 Ibid., pp. 297-298. 



319 

Aksentyef, a pupil of the Penza gymnasium ; in Lomintsevok, 
Alexey Shumilin, a pupil of the Kaluga gymnasium ; in the 
Bagucharof school, Boris Golovin, a pupil of the Tula theo- 
logical seminary ; in the Baburino school, Alfonse Erlenwein, a 
pupil of the Kishinef gymnasium ; and in Yassenki, Mitrofan 
Butovich, a pupil of the Kishinef gymnasium ; in the Kolpeno 
school, Anatoly Tomashevsky, who finished his studies in the 
Saratof gymnasium ; in Gorodnya, Vladimir Tokashevich, who 
finished his studies in the Penza gymnasium; in the Plek- 
hanovo school, Nicolay Peterson, who finished his studies in 
the Penza gymnasium for the nobles ; the Bogucharof village 
community chose Sergey Gudim, an ex-student of the Kazan 
University, in the place of its former teacher Morozof. 1 

Perhaps some of these men may come across this biography, 
and its perusal may induce them to write down memories of 
their collaboration with the great teacher. 

In one of his articles on education, Tolstoy himself sets forth 
in detail the organisation of the school at Yasnaya Polyana : 

* The school is held in a two-storied stone building. Two 
rooms are given up to the school, one is a cabinet of physical 
curiosities, and two are occupied by the teachers. Under the 
roof of the porch hangs a bell with a rope attached to the 
clapper; in the vestibule downstairs stand parallel and hori- 
zontal bars, while in the vestibule upstairs there is a joiner's 
bench. The staircase and the floor of the vestibule are covered 
with snow or mud ; here also hangs the programme. 

' The order of instruction is as follows : at about eight 
o'clock, the teacher living in the school, a lover of external 
order and the administrator of the school, sends one of the 
boys, who nearly always stay overnight with him, to ring the 
bell. 

* In the village, people rise with the fires. From the school 
the fires have long been observed in the windows, and, half-an- 
hour after the ringing of the bell, there appear in the mist, in 
the rain, or in the oblique rays of the autumnal sun, dark 
figures, by twos, by threes, or singly, on the mounds (the 
village is separated from the school by a ravine). The necessity 
of herding together has long disappeared for the pupils. A 
pupil no longer requires to wait and shout: "O boys, let's 

1 D. T. Oospensky, " Archive Materials for Tolstoy's Biography." Russian 
Thought, 1903, vol. ix. 



320 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

go to school ! She has begun.' 1 He knows by this time that 
"school" is neuter, and he knows a few other things, and, 
strange to say, for that very reason has no longer any need of 
a crowd. . . . 

' The children have nothing with them neither reading- 
books nor copy-books. No lessons are given to take home. 

'Not only do they carry nothing in their hands, but they 
have nothing to carry even in their heads. They are not 
obliged to remember any lesson, or anything that they were 
doing the day before. They are not vexed by the thought 
of the impending lesson. They bring with them nothing but 
their impressionable natures and their convictions that to-day 
it will be as jolly in school as it was yesterday. They do not 
think of their classes until they have begun. 

' No one is ever rebuked for being late, and they never are 
late, except in the case of some of the older ones, whose fathers 
now and then keep them back to do some work. In such cases 
they come running to school at full speed, and all out of 
breath. 

' So long as the teacher has not yet arrived, they gather near 
the porch, pushing each other off the steps, or sliding on the 
frozen crust of the smooth road, while some go to the school- 
rooms. If it is cold, they read, write, or play, waiting for the 
teacher. 

4 The girls do not mix with the boys. When the boys have 
anything to do with the girls, they never address any one in 
particular, but always all collectively : " O girls, why don't 
you skate ? " or, " I guess the girls are frozen," or, " Now, 
girls, all of you against met" There is only one girl, from 
the manor, with very great general ability, about ten years of 
age, who is beginning to make herself conspicuous among the 
herd. This girl alone the boys treat as their equal and as a 
boy, except for a delicate shade of politeness, condescension, 
and reserve.' 1 

' Popular education has always and everywhere been to me 
an incomprehensible phenomenon. The people want education, 
and every separate individual unconsciously seeks education. 
The more highly cultured class of people society, the officers 
of the Government strive to transmit their knowledge and to 
educate the less educated masses. One would think that such 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. pp. 228-230. 




OH pq 

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EDUCATIONAL THEORIES 321 

a coincidence of necessities would lead to satisfaction being 
given to both the class which furnishes the education and the 
one that receives it. But the very opposite takes place. The 
masses continually counteract the efforts made for their edu- 
cation by society or by the Government, as the representatives 
of a more highly cultured class, so that these efforts are 
frequently frustrated.' l 

As with every conflict, so also here, it was necessary to 
solve the question : Which is more lawful, the resistance or 
the action itself? Must the resistance be broken, or the action 
be changed ? 2 

The question has been somehow always settled in favour of 
violence. But some sound reasons ought to be produced for 
the use of such violence. What are they ? To this question 
Tolstoy gives the following answer. The arguments may be 
religious, philosophical, experimental, and historical, and then 
he discusses each of these kinds of arguments separately : 

' But in our time, when religious education forms but a small 
part of education, the question what good ground the school 
has for compelling the young generation to receive religious 
instruction in a certain fashion remains unanswered from the 
religious point of view. 1 3 

'The philosophical arguments cannot afford a reason for 
coercion. 

' All the philosophers, beginning with Plato and ending with 
Kant, tend to this one thing, the liberation of the school 
from the traditional fetters which weigh heavily upon it. 
They wish to discover what it is that man needs, and on 
these more or less correctly divined needs they build up their 
new school. 

' Luther wants people to study Holy Writ in the original, 
and not according to the commentaries of the holy fathers. 
Bacon enjoins the study of Nature from Nature, and not from 
the books of Aristotle. Rousseau wants to teach life from life 
itself, as he understands it, and not from previous experiments. 
Every step forward taken by the philosophy of history consists 
only in freeing the school from the idea of instructing the 
younger generation in that which the elder generations con- 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. p. 3. 

2 Ibid., p. 5. s Ibid., p. 8. 

VOL. I. X 



322 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

sidered to be science, in favour of the idea of instructing them 
in what they themselves need. This one common and, at the 
same time, self-contradictory idea is felt in the whole history 
of educational theories: it is common, because all demand a 
greater measure of freedom for the school ; contradictory, 
because everybody prescribes laws based on his own theory, 
and by that very act that freedom is curtailed. 1 1 

' The educational experiments tend still less to convince us 
of the lawfulness of compulsory education. Not only is the 
experiment sad in itself, but the school stupefies the children 
by distorting their mental faculties ; it tears them away from 
the family during the most precious time of their development, 
deprives them of the happiness of freedom, and converts the 
child into a jaded, crushed being, wearing an expression of 
fatigue, fear, and ennui, repeating with its lips strange words 
in a strange language ; and in reality the experience of school- 
work gives nothing besides these, for it takes place amid con- 
ditions destroying any possible value in the experiments. 

' School, so it would appear to us, ought to be a means of 
education and, at the same time, an experiment on the young 
generation, constantly giving new results. Only when experi- 
ment is at the foundation of school-work, and every school 
is, so to speak, an educational laboratory, will the school 
keep pace with the universal progress, and experiment will be 
able to lay firm foundations for the science of education.' 2 

' The historical arguments are as feeble as the philosophical. 
The progress of life, of technical knowledge, of science, pro- 
ceeds faster than the progress of the school, and the school 
therefore remains more and more behind the social life, and 
becomes ever worse and worse.' 

The argument that as schools have existed and are existing, 
therefore they are good, Tolstoy meets by describing his per- 
sonal experience of schools in Marseilles, Paris, and other towns 
in western Europe, which brought him to the conclusion that 
the greater part of the people's education is acquired not at 
school, but in life, and that free, open instruction by means of 
public lectures, sights, meetings, books, exhibitions, and so on, 
quite surpasses all school tuition. 

Finally Tolstoy addresses himself especially to Russian edu- 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. pp. 10, 11. 

2 Ibid., p. 19. 



APPEAL TO EDUCATIONISTS 323 

cationists, saying that if we are, for example, to acknowledge 
the existence of German schools as desirable, in spite of their 
defects, on the ground of historic experiment, still the question 
remains : On what grounds are we, Russians, to defend the 
school for the people, when no such schools yet exist with us ? 
What historic reasons have we to declare that our schools must 
be the same as those of the rest of Europe. 

' What are we Russians to do at the present moment ? 
Shall we all come to some agreement and take as our basis the 
English, French, German, or North American view of educa- 
tion and any one of their methods ? Or, shall we, by closely 
examining philosophy and psychology, discover what in general 
is necessary for the development of a human soul, and for 
making out of the younger generation the best men possible 
according to our conception ? Or, shall we make use of the 
experience of history not in imitating those forms which 
history has evolved, but in comprehending those laws which 
humanity has worked out through suffering? shall we say 
frankly and honestly to ourselves that we do not know and 
cannot know what future generations may need, but that we 
feel ourselves obliged to study this need, and that we wish to 
do so ? that we do not wish to accuse the people of ignorance 
for not accepting our education, but that we shall accuse our- 
selves of ignorance and self-conceit if we persist in educating 
the people according to our ideas ? 

'Let us cease looking upon the people's resistance to our 
education as upon a hostile element, but let us rather see 
in it an expression of the people's will, which alone ought 
to guide us. Let us finally adopt the view which we are 
so plainly told, both by the history of educational methods 
and the whole history of education, that if the educating 
class is to know what is good and what is bad, the classes 
which receive the education must have full power to express 
their dissatisfaction, or, at least, to swerve from the educa- 
tion which instinctively does not satisfy them that the only 
criterion of educational methods is liberty.' 1 

The article ends in the following avowal : 

* We know that our arguments will not convince many. We 
know that our fundamental convictions that the only method 
of education is experiment, and its only criterion freedom, will 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. pp. 28, 29. 



324 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

sound to some like trite commonplace, to some like an indis- 
tinct abstraction, to others again like a visionary dream. We 
should not have dared to disturb the repose of the theoretical 
pedagogues and to express these convictions, which are contrary 
to all experience, if we had to confine ourselves to the reflections 
made in this article ; but we feel ourselves able to prove step 
by step, and taking one fact after another, the applicability 
and propriety of our convictions however wild they may appear, 
and to this end alone do we devote the publication of the 
periodical Yasnaya Polyana? l 

The magazine Yasnaya Polyana, which was in fact itself an 
interesting educational experiment, lasted for one year. Twelve 
numbers were issued. 

The first number began with the following appeal to the 
public : 

* Entering on a new work, I am under some fear, both for 
myself and for those thoughts which have been for years de- 
veloping in me, and which I regard as true. I am certain 
beforehand that many of these thoughts will turn out to be 
mistaken. However carefully I have endeavoured to study the 
subject, and have involuntarily looked upon it from one side, I 
hope that my thoughts will call forth the expression of a con- 
trary opinion. I shall be glad to afford room for all opinions 
in my magazine. Of one thing only am I afraid that these 
opinions may be expressed with acridity, and that the discussion 
of a subject so dear and important to all as that of national 
education may degenerate into sarcasms, personalities, and 
journalistic polemics; and I will not say that sarcasms and 
personalities could not affect me, or that I hope to be above 
them. On the contrary, I confess that I fear as much for 
myself as for the cause itself; I fear being carried away by 
personal polemics instead of quietly and persistently working 
at my subject. 

* I therefore beg all future opponents of my views to express 
their thoughts so that I may explain myself, and substantiate 
my statements in those cases in which our disagreement is 
caused by our not understanding one another, and might agree 
with my opponents when the error of my view is proved. 

'COUNT L. N. TOLSTOY/ 
1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. p. 31. 



YASNAYA POLYANA SCHOOL 325 

Each number contained one or two theoretical articles, then 
reports of the progress of the schools under the management of 
Tolstoy, bibliography, description of school libraries, accounts 
of donations, and a supplement in the shape of a book for 
reading. 

The motto of the magazine was the saying: Glaubst zu 
schieben und wirst geschoben, that is to say, ' You mean to 
push, but in reality it is you who are pushed.' 

This magazine has become a bibliographical rarity. True, 
Tolstoy's own principal articles have been included in the fourth 
volume of the full edition of his works, but, besides those 
articles, there appeared in the magazine many different short 
notices, descriptions and reports of great interest for teachers 
in a theoretical as well as in a practical sense. 
*~ In his article ' On methods of teaching to read and write,' 
Tolstoy tries in the first place to prove that reading is not the 
Jirst step in instruction, but only an intervening one. 

4 Since it is not the^r*, then it is not the principal one. 

' If we want to find the foundation, the first step in education, 
why should we look for it perforce in the rudiments, instead 
of much deeper ? Why should we stop at one of the endless 
number of the instruments of education and see in it the alpha 
and omega of education, when it is only one of the incidental, 
unimportant circumstances of education ? ' x 

* By " Education " we do not mean merely a knowledge of 
" Reading and Writing." 

* We see people who are well acquainted with all the facts 
necessary to know for the purpose of farming, and with a large 
number of inter-relations of these facts, though they can 
neither read nor write; or excellent military commanders, 
excellent merchants, managers, superintendents of work, master 
mechanics, artisans, contractors, and people simply educated 
by life, who possess a great store of information and of sound 
reasoning based on that information, who can neither read nor 
write. On the other hand we see those who can read and 
write, and who have acquired no new information by means of 
those accomplishments.' 2 

Among the reasons which cause a contradiction between the 
real needs of the people and the tuition imposed upon the 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. p. 36. 

2 Ibid., p. 35. 



326 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

people by the cultured classes, Tolstoy points out certain 
features in the historic development of educational institutions. 

' First were founded, not the lower, but the higher schools : 
at first the monastic, then the secondary, then the primary 
schools. . . . The rudiments are in this organised hierarchy of 
institutions the last step, or the first from the end, and there- 
fore the lower school is to respond only to the exigencies of the 
higher schools. 

'But there is also another point of view, from which the 
popular school appears as an independent institution, which is 
not obliged to perpetuate the imperfections of the higher insti- 
tution of learning, but which has an aim of its own, viz. that 
of supplying popular education.' l 

'The school for reading and writing exists amongst the 
people in the shape of the workshop, and, as such, satisfies the 
need for those accomplishments, and reading and writing are 
for the people a certain kind of art or craft.' 

Having made clear the gist of this matter of writing and 
reading, and pointed out its place in the life of the people, 
Tolstoy goes on further to investigate different methods of 
teaching to read and write. 

After having examined the defects and merits of the old- 
fashioned methods of teaching to read letter by letter, and the 
method of learning by sound ; after having further discussed the 
comical and pedantic German Lautieranschaungsunterrichts- 
methode, he came to the conclusion that all methods are good 
and all are bad, that the talent and ability of the teacher are 
at the foundation of any method, and he finally addresses to 
the teacher the following advice : 

'Every teacher of reading must be well grounded in the 
one method which has been evolved by the people, and must 
further verify it by his own experience ; he must endeavour to 
find out the greatest number of methods, employing them as 
auxiliary means ; must, by regarding every imperfection in the 
pupil's comprehension, not as showing a defect in the pupil, 
but a defect in his own instruction, endeavour to develop 
in himself the ability of discovering new methods. Every 
teacher must know that every method invented is only a 
step, on which he must stand in order to go farther ; he must 
know that if he himself will not do it, another will adopt that 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. p. 38. 



EDUCATIONAL IDEAS 327 

method, and will, on its basis, go farther, and that, as the busi- 
ness of teaching is an art, completeness and perfection are not 
obtainable, while development and improvement are endless.' l 

With still greater detail and clearness does Tolstoy present 
his educational ideas in his article * Education and Instruc- 
tion." 

In the first place, he states the fact that the majority of 
educationists, Russian and European, confuse these two ideas. 
Then he tries to restate the distinction between these concep- 
tions, giving his own definitions to the three principal educa- 
tional terms Education, Training, and Instruction. 

* Education in the broad sense of the term is, according to 
our conviction, the sum total of all those influences which 
develop man, give him a broader outlook and new knowledge. 
Children's games and their sufferings, punishments inflicted by 
their parents, books, work, study, whether compulsory or free, 
art, science, life all these educate. 

' Training is the influence exercised by one man on another 
for the purpose of making him adopt certain moral habits. 

' Instruction is the transmission of knowledge from one man 
to another (one can be instructed in chess, or history, or boot- 
making). Teaching, an aspect of instruction, is the influence 
exercised by one man upon another for the purpose of lead- 
ing him to acquire certain accomplishments (to sing, to do 
carpentering, to dance, to row, to recite). Instruction and 
teaching are means of education when they are exercised 
without compulsion, and means of training when teaching is 
compulsory, and when instruction is directed in an exclusive 
way, i.e. when only those subjects are given which the teacher 
regards as necessary. 

' There are no rights of education. I do not acknowledge 
such, nor have they been acknowledged, nor will they ever be, 
by the young generation under education, which always and 
everywhere is set against compulsion in education.' 2 

'Education is compulsory, instruction is free. Where lies 
the right to compulsion ? 

* Where do we find the justification of any compulsion by 
humanity?'' To this question Tolstoy gives the following 
answer : 

I The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. ir. p. 58. 

II Ibid., pp. Ill, 112. 



328 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

' If such an abnormal condition as the use of force in culture 
education has existed for ages, the causes of this pheno- 
menon must be rooted in human nature. I see these causes 
(1) in the family, (2) in religion, (3) in the State, and (4) in 
society (in the narrower sense, which in our country embraces 
only the official circles and the gentry). 1 1 

While not approving of the influence of the first three 
sources of compulsion, Tolstoy admitted that it was intelligible. 

' It is difficult to hinder parents from bringing up their chil- 
dren to be different from what they are themselves ; it is difficult 
for a believer not to strive to bring up his child in his own 
faith ; finally, it is difficult to claim that Governments should 
not educate the officials whom they require. 

' But by what right does the privileged, progressive society 
educate by its own standard the people alien to itself ? This 
can be explained by nothing but gross egotistical error. 

* What is the reason of this error ? 

' I think it is that we do not hear the voice of those who 
attack us ; we do not hear it, because it does not speak in print 
or down from the professor's chair. But it is the mighty voice 
of the people, which one must listen to carefully in order to 
hear it. 1 2 

Tolstoy then began the examination of the methods of this 
educational compulsion, i.e. those practised in the schools from 
the lowest to the highest, and he found nothing cheering 
in them. He criticised especially the organisation of our 
universities. 

Without rejecting university instruction on principle, 
Tolstoy declared : 

'I can understand a university, corresponding to its name 
and its fundamental idea, as a collection of men for the purpose 
of their mutual culture. Such universities, unknown to us, 
spring up and exist in various corners of Russia ; in the uni- 
versities themselves, in the students 1 clubs, people come to- 
gether, read and discuss, until at last rules establish themselves 
when to meet and how to discuss. There you have real universi- 
ties ! But our universities, in spite of all the empty talk about 
the seeming freedom of their structure, are institutions which, 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. p. 114. 
3 Ibid., p. 116. 



'UNIVERSITY LIFE 1 329 

by their organisation, in no way differ from female boarding- 
schools and cadet academies. 1 1 

' Besides the absence of freedom, of independence, one of the 
chief defects of our university life is its aloofness from real life. 

' See how the son of a peasant learns to become a farmer ; 
how the sexton's son, reading in the choir, learns to be a sexton; 
how the son of a Kirgiz cattle-dealer becomes a herder : he enters 
very early into direct relations with life, with Nature, and with 
men ; he learns early, while working, to make his work pro- 
ductive ; and he learns, being secure on the material side of life, 
that is, so far as to be sure of a piece of bread, of clothes to 
wear, and of a lodging. Now look at a student, who is torn 
away from home, from the family, cast into a strange city, full 
of temptations for his youth, without means of support (because 
the parents provide means only for bare necessities, while all 
is spent on frivolity), in a circle of companions who by their 
society only intensify his defects ; without guides, without an 
aim, having pushed off from the old and having not yet landed 
at the new. Such, with rare exceptions, is the position of a 
student. From this results that which alone can result ; 
you have officials who are fit only for Government posts ; or 
professional officials, fit for society; or people aimlessly torn 
away from their former surroundings, with a spoiled youth, and 
finding no place for themselves in life, so-called people with 
university culture advanced, that is, irritable, sickly Liberals. 

* The university is our first and our chief educational institu- 
tion. It is the first to arrogate to itself the right of education, 
and it is the first, so far as the results which it obtains indicate, 
to prove the impropriety and impossibility of university educa- 
tion. Only from the social point of view is it possible to justify 
the fruits of the university. The university trains not such 
men as humanity needs, but such as corrupt society needs. 1 2 

Tolstoy foresaw the timid objections to his radical solution 
of the question on the part of those fearing a change, and 
answered these at once, concluding his answer with the follow- 
ing reply : 

* " What are we to do then ? Shall there, really, be no county 
schools, no gymnasia, no chairs of the history of Roman law ? 
What will become of humanity ? " I hear. 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. p. 127. 

2 Ibid., pp. 136, 137. 



330 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

'There certainly shall be none, if the pupils do not need 
them, and you are not able to make them good. 

' " But children do not always know what they need ; children 
are mistaken," and so forth, I hear. 

' I will not enter into this discussion. This discussion would 
lead us to the question: Can man's nature be judged by a 
tribunal of men ? and so forth. I do not know that, and do 
not take that stand ; all I can say is that if we know what to 
teach, you must not keep me from teaching Russian children by 
force, French, mediaeval genealogy, and the art of stealing. I 
can prove everything as you do. 

' " So there will be no gymnasia and no Latin ? Then, what 
am I going to do ? " I again hear. 

' Don't be afraid ! There will be Latin and rhetoric, and 
they will exist another hundred years, simply because the 
medicine is bought, so we must drink it (as a patient said). I 
doubt whether the thought, which I have expressed, perhaps, 
indistinctly, awkwardly, inconclusively, will become a common 
possession in another hundred years ; it is not likely that within 
a hundred years will die those ready-made institutions, schools, 
gymnasia, universities, and that within that time will grow up 
freely-formed institutions, having for their basis the freedom of 
the learning generation.' l 

Of course such audacious ideas could not be accepted by 
educationists, who during the sixties have been at the head of 
national instruction in Russia. Offended science did not even 
deign to take such ideas seriously. In The Collection of Criti- 
cisms upon Tolstoy, by Zelinsky, a book very carefully com- 
posed, there are only two serious articles devoted to the 
magazine Yasnaya Polyana, and to the school of the same 
name. They are printed in The Contemporary of 1862. 

To one of these, the article of E. Markof, Tolstoy replied 
in his magazine by an article, ' The Progress and Definition of 
Instruction. 1 

The gist of Markof 's argument, given in a resume at the end 
of his article, consists in an open acknowledgment of the right 
of compulsory education on the part of society, and its right 
of rejecting free instruction, after making which he proceeds 
to express his approval of contemporary systems of instruc- 
tion. As to the school in Yasnaya Polyana, he speaks with 
1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. pp. 150, 151. 



'PROGRESS OF INSTRUCTION' 331 

enthusiasm of its practice, but holds that it is inconsistent 
with the theories of its founder and guide, L. N. Tolstoy. 

In his reply to Markof, Tolstoy repeats and explains what 
has been said by him in his preceding articles, and comes to 
the conclusion that their principal difference is the fact that 
Markof believes in progress and he does not. 

In explanation of his want of belief in progress he says : 

'The process of progress has taken place in all humanity 
from time immemorial, says the historian who believes in pro- 
gress, and he proves this assertion by comparing, let us say, 
the England of the year 1685 with the England of our time. 
Even if it were possible to prove, by comparing Russia, France, 
and Italy of our time with ancient Rome, Greece, Carthage, 
and so forth, that the prosperity of the modern nations is 
greater than that of antiquity, I am still struck by one in- 
comprehensible phenomenon; they deduce a general law for 
all humanity from the comparison of one small part of Euro- 
pean humanity in the present and the past. Progress is a 
common law of humanity, they say, except for Asia, Africa, 
America, and Australia, except for one thousand million 
people. 

' We have noticed the law of progress in the dukedom of 
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, with its three thousand inhabitants. 
We know China, with its two hundred millions of inhabitants, 
which overthrows our whole theory of progress, and we do not 
for a moment doubt that progress is the common law of all 
humanity, and that we, the believers in that progress, are 
right, and those who do not believe in it are wrong, and so 
we go with cannons and guns to impress the idea of progress 
upon the Chinese. Common sense, however, tells us that if the 
history of the greater part of humanity, the whole so-called 
East, does not confirm the law of progress, but, on the con- 
trary, overthrows it, that law does not exist for all humanity, 
but only as an article of faith for a certain part of it. 

' I, like all people who are free from the superstition of pro- 
gress, observe only that humanity lives, that the memories 
of the past augment as much as they disappear ; the labours 
of the past frequently serve as a basis for the labours of 
the present, and just as frequently as an impediment; that 
the well-being of people now increases in one place, in one 
stratum, and in one sense, and now diminishes ; that, no 



332 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

matter how desirable it would be, I cannot find any common 
law in the life of humanity; and that it is as easy to sub- 
ordinate history to the idea of progress as to any other idea or 
to any imaginable historical fancy. 

4 1 will say even more ; I see no necessity for finding common 
laws for history, independently of the impossibility of finding 
them. The common eternal law is written in the soul of each 
man. The law of progress, or perfectibility, is written in the 
soul of each man, and is transferred to history only through 
error. As long as it remains personal, this law is fruitful and 
accessible to all ; when it is transferred to history, it becomes 
an idle, empty prattle, leading to the justification of every 
insipidity and to fatalism. Progress in general in all humanity 
is an unproved fact, and does not exist for all the Eastern 
nations ; therefore, it is as unfounded to say that progress is 
the law of humanity as it is to say that all people are fair 
except the dark-complexioned ones.' * 

The propositions stated are developed in detail by Tolstoy 
in his article, but as this subject oversteps the limits of our 
narrative, we will conclude by mentioning one more paper, 
entitled ' A Project for a General Plan of People's Schools 
Organisation.' This article contains some witty criticisms, 
and a readable review of the Government regulation concern- 
ing schools in 1862. 

Tolstoy's general critical remarks on the regulation can be 
summed up thus: (1) The regulation is based upon the 
American system; the people are to pay school rates, and 
the schools are to be maintained by the Government with the 
sum collected. But what is good in a democratic republic 
may turn out very bad in a despotic state, where the law 
expressing the so-called 'will of the people' becomes a gross 
invasion of the rights of the people. (2) The general in- 
efficiency of the project follows from its inadaptability to 
the needs of the people, owing to entire ignorance of Russian 
life on the part of the author. (8) The control of popular 
education sanctioned by this regulation will prove an obstacle 
to the popular education already existing, which is freely 
spreading. 

After having finished this brief summary of Tolstoy's opinions 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. pp. 161-163. 



SUCCESS OF TOLSTOY'S VIEWS 333 

on education, we must give our own conclusion, which is in 
opposition to the conclusion of M. Markof, and is this, that 
the practice of the school at Yasnaya Polyana does not in the 
least contradict Tolstoy's views, but, on the contrary, amounts 
to their direct application, which is accomplished with unique 
success. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE WORK OF THE YASNAYA POLYANA SCHOOL 

The evening walk Fedka, Se'mJca, and Pr6nka Tolstoy's tales The turning to 
discourse on art A lesson in authorship ' Feeding with the spoon, poking 
the eye with the handle' Process of creation Se"mka and Fe'dka 
Artistic details The truthfulness of the description Literary ambitions 
Tolstoy's excitement The first history lesson The Tula province, Russia, 
the law, the classes, the frontier Weakness of this method The second 
history lesson Tolstoy's account of the year 1812 and the events preceding 
it Powerful impression Rousing of patriotism Unsoundness of this 
method The teaching of music and drawing His departure for Samara 
On board steamer Letter from Samara to Tatiana Letter from the 
sanatorium Search by the police in Yasnaya Polyana Account by Markof 
Recollections of Prince Obolensky Description of it by Tolstoy to the 
Countess A. A. Tolstoy Tolstoy's demand for satisfaction A letter by 
Tolstoy to the Countess A. A. Tolstoy Petition handed to the Emperor 
His reply Correspondence of two ministers about the pernicious 
tendency of the review Ydsnaya Polydna. 

IN his educational articles of practical interest Tolstoy gives 
an artistic description of several incidents in school life, a 
subject in which he took a warm and sincere interest, not like 
a stern pedant demanding obedience, but like a boy joining in 
the joys and sorrows of his school companions, giving them his 
whole soul, and sharing his great spiritual riches with them. 

By putting together the incidents thus described, one sees the 
gigantic figure of the great educationist in all its grandeur. 

1. THE WORKING OF THE SCHOOL. 

' It was not cold outside a moonless winter night with 
clouds in the sky. We stopped at the cross-roads ; the older, 
third-year pupils stopped near me, asking me to accompany 
them farther ; the younger ones looked awhile at me and then 
ran off down hill. The younger ones had begun to study with 
a new teacher, and they no longer had that confidence in me 
that the older boys had. 

* " Come, let us go to the preserve " (a small forest within 

834 



WORKING OF THE SCHOOL 335 

two hundred steps of the house), said one of them. Fedka, 
a small boy of ten, of a tender, impressionable, poetical, and 
impetuous nature, was the most persistent in his demands. 
Danger seemed to form his chief condition for enjoyment. . . . 

' He knew that there were wolves in the forest then, and so 
he wanted to go to the preserve. The rest joined in, so we 
went, all four of us, into the wood. Another boy, I shall call 
him Semka, a physically and morally sound lad of about 
twelve, nicknamed Vavilo, walked ahead and kept exchanging 
calls with somebody in his ringing voice. Prdnka, a sickly, 
meek, but uncommonly talented boy, the son of a poor family 
sickly, I think, mainly on account of insufficient food was 
walking by my side. 

( Fedka was walking between me and Semka, talking all the 
time in his extremely soft voice, telling us how he had herded 
horses here in the summer, or saying that he was not afraid of 
anything, or asking, "Suppose some one were to jump out at 
us ! " and insisting on my answering him. We did not go into 
the forest itself that would have been too terrible but even 
near the forest it was getting darker ; we could hardly see the 
path, and the fires of the village were hidden from view. 

' Semka stopped and began to listen. 

* " Stop, boys ! What is that ? " he suddenly said. 

' We held our tongues, but we could hear nothing ; still it 
added terror to our fear. 

' " Well, what should we do if one should jump out and 
make straight for us?" Fedka asked. 

'We began to talk about robbers in the Caucasus. They 
recalled a story of the Caucasus I had told them long ago, and 
I told them more stories about abreks, Cossacks, and Khddzhi- 
Murat. Semka was strutting ahead of us, stepping broadly in 
his big boots, and evenly swaying his strong back. Prdnka 
tried to walk by my side, but Fedka pushed him off the path, 
and Prdnka, who apparently always submitted to such treat- 
ment on account of his poverty, still rushed up to my side 
during the most interesting passages, though sinking knee-deep 
in the snow. 

* Everybody who knows anything about peasant children has 
noticed that they are not accustomed to any kind of caresses 
tender words, kisses, being fondly touched with the hand, and 
so forth. , It was for this reason that I was startled when 



336 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Fedka, who was walking by my side, in the most terrible part 
of the story suddenly touched me lightly with his sleeve, and 
then grasped two of my fingers with his whole hand, and did 
not let them go. 

'The moment I was silent, Fedka begged me to proceed, 
and that in such an imploring tone and with so much agitation 
that I could not refuse. 

* " Don't get in my way ! " he once angrily called out to 
Prdnka, who had run on in front ; he was really quite savage 
with him he had such a mingled feeling of terror and joy, as 
he was holding on to my finger, that he could not bear any 
one daring to interrupt his pleasure. 

' " More, more ! That's fine ! " 

'We passed the forest and were approaching the village 
from the other end. 

' " Let us go back again," all cried, when the lights became 
visible. " Let us take another walk ! " 

* We walked in silence, now and then sinking in the loose 
untrodden snow ; the white darkness seemed to be swaying 
before our eyes ; the clouds hung low, and seemed to be piled 
over us there was no end to that whiteness over which we 
alone crunched through the snow; the wind rustled through 
the bare tops of the aspens, but we were protected from the 
wind behind the forest. 

'I finished my story by telling them that the abrek, being 
surrounded, began to sing songs, and then threw himself on his 
dagger. All were silent. 

f " Why did he sing a song when he was surrounded ? " asked 
Semka. 

* " Didn't you hear ? He was getting ready to die ! " Fedka 
replied sorrowfully. 

' " I think he sang a prayer," added Pr<5nka. 

' All agreed. . . . 

'We stopped in the grove, beyond the threshing-floors, at 
the very end of the village. Semka picked up a stick from the 
snow and began to strike the frozen trunk of a lime tree. The 
hoar frost fell from the branches upon his cap, and the lonely 
sound of his beating was borne through the forest. 

' " Lyof Nikolayevich," Fedka said (I thought he wanted to 
say something again about the countess), " why do people learn 
singing ? I often wonder why they really do ? " . . . 




LEO TOLSTOY DURING HIS EDUCATIONAL 
ACTIVITY 



LESSON IN COMPOSITION 337 

'It feels strange to me to repeat what we spoke on that 
evening, but I remember we said everything, I think, that 
there was to be said on utility and on plastic and moral 
beauty/ 1 ^ - 

A rare happiness fell to the writer of these lines, as to 
Fedka, who held Tolstoy by his fingers and was rapt in ecstasy. 
I more than once walked with Tolstoy on the same spot 
(Zakas). Listening to his tales I have experienced the same 
feeling which cannot be expressed in better words than those 
used by Fedka : ' Go on, go on ! ah, how nice ! ' 

2. THE LESSON IN COMPOSITION. 

' Once, last winter,' Tolstoy goes on, ' I forgot everything 
after dinner as I read SnegireFs book, and even returned to 
the school with the book in my hands. It was a lesson in 
the Russian language. 

' " Well, write something on a proverb ! " I said. 

'The best pupils, Fedka, Semka, and a few others, pricked 
up their ears. 

'"What do you mean by 'on a proverb 1 ? What is it? 
Tell us ! " the questions ran. 

' I happened to open the book at the proverb : " He feeds 
with the spoon, and pricks his eye with the handle. 1 ' 

' " Now, imagine, 11 1 said, " that a peasant has taken a beggar 
to his house, and then begins to rebuke him for the good he 
has done him, and you will see that 'he feeds with the spoon, 
and pricks his eye with the handle. 1 " 

'"But how are you going to write it? 11 said Fedka and 
all the rest who had pricked up their ears. They retreated, 
having convinced themselves that this matter was beyond 
their strength, and betook themselves to the work which 
they had begun. 

' " Will you write it yourself? 11 one of them said to me. 

' Everybody was busy with his work ; I took a pen and 
ink and began to write. 

' " Well, 11 said I, " who will write it best ? I am with you. 11 

' I began the story, printed in the fourth number of the 
Yasnaya Polyana^ and wrote down the first page. Every 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. pp. 247-253. 
VOL. i. y 



338 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

unbiassed man who has the artistic sense and feels with the 
poorer classes, will, upon reading this first page, written by 
me, and the following pages of the story, written by the 
pupils themselves, separate this page from the rest, as if he 
were taking a fly out of the milk ; it is so false, so artificial, 
and so badly expressed. I must remark that in the original 
form it was more monstrous still, as much has been corrected, 
thanks to the hints given by the pupils. 

'Fedka kept looking up from his copy-book to me, and 
upon meeting my eyes, smiled, winked, and repeated: "Write, 
write/ or Til give it to you ! " He was evidently amused to 
see a grown person write a theme. 

* Having finished his theme worse and faster than usual, 
he climbed on the back of my chair and began to read over 
my shoulders. I could not proceed ; others came up to us, 
and I read out to them what I had written. 

' They did not like it, and none of them praised it. I felt 
ashamed, and, to soothe my literary vanity, I began to tell 
them the plan of what was to follow. The further I got in 
my story, the more enthusiastic I became; I often corrected 
myself, and they kept helping me out. One would say that 
the old man should be a magician ; another would remark : 
" No, that won't do, he must be just a soldier; the best thing 
will be if he steals from him ; no, that won't go with the 
proverb," and so forth. 

'All were exceedingly interested. It was evidently a new 
and exciting sensation for them to be present at the process 
of creation and to take part in it. Their judgments were 
all, for the most part, to the same effect, and they were 
just, whether they spoke of the very structure of the story 
or of the incidents and the characters given to the personages. 
Nearly all of them took part in the composition ; but, from 
the outset, those who distinguished themselves were the 
positive Semka, by his marked artistic power of description, 
and Fedka, by the correctness of his poetical conception, and 
especially by the glow and rapidity of his imagination. 

' Their demands had so little of the accidental in them and 
were so definite, that more than once, after beginning a dis- 
cussion, I had to give way to them. I was strongly possessed 
by the demands of a regular structure and of an exact cor- 
respondence of the idea of the proverb to the story ; while 



LESSON IN COMPOSITION 339 

they, on the contrary, were only concerned about the demands 
of artistic truth. I, for example, wanted that the peasant, 
who had taken the old man to his house, should himself 
repent of his good deed, while they regarded this as impossible, 
and introduced a cross old woman. 

' I said : " The peasant was at first sorry for the old man, 
and afterwards did not like giving away the bread." 

' Fedka replied that that would make the story improbable. 
"From the first he did not obey the old woman, and would 
not submit later on." 

* " What kind of a man is he, according to you ? " I asked. 

'"He is like Uncle Timofey," said Fedka, smiling. "He 
has a scanty beard, goes to church, and he has bees." 

' " Is he good but stubborn ? " I asked. 

* " Yes," said Fedka, " he will not obey the old woman." 

* From the time that the old man was brought into the hut, 
the work became animated. They evidently for the first time 
felt the charm of clothing artistic incidents in words. Semka 
distinguished himself more than the rest in this respect; the 
correctest details were poured forth one after the other. The 
only fault that could be found with him was that these details 
sketched only the actual moment, without connection with 
the general feeling of the story. I hardly could write their 
descriptions as fast as they gave them, and only asked them 
to wait and not forget what they had told me. 

' Semka seemed to see and describe that which was before 
his eyes; the stiff, frozen bast shoes, with the dirt oozing 
from them as they thawed, and the half burnt scraps into 
which they were shrivelled when the old woman threw them 
into the oven. 

' Fedka, on the contrary, saw only such details as brought 
out for him the particular feeling which he had for particular 
individuals. Fedka saw the snow drifting behind the peasant's 
leg-rags, and the expression of compassion with which the 
peasant said, " Lord, how it snows ! " (Fedka's face even 
showed how the peasant said it, and besides this he swung 
his hands and shook his head.) He saw the cloak, all rags 
and patches, and the torn shirt, under which could be seen 
the shrunken body of the old man, wet from the melting snow. 
He created the old woman, who growled, as, at the command 
of her husband, she took off his bast shoes, and the pitiful 



340 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

groan of the old man as he muttered through his teeth, 
" Softly, motherkin, I have sores here." 

' Semka needed mainly objective pictures ; bast shoes, a 
cloak, an old man, a woman, all almost independent of one 
another; but Fedka had to make others feel the pity with 
which he was filled himself. He ran ahead of the story, telling 
how he would feed the old man, how the latter would fall down 
at night, and would later teach a boy in the field to read, so 
that I was obliged to ask him not to be in such a hurry and 
not to forget what he had said. His eyes sparkled with 
positive tears ; his swarthy, thin little hands were clasped 
convulsively; he was angry with me, and kept urging me 
on : " Have you written it, have you written it ? " he kept 
asking me. 

' He treated all the rest despotically ; he wanted to talk all 
the time, giving the story not as a story is told, but as it is 
written, that is, artistically clothing in words the sensuous 
pictures. Thus, for example, he would not allow words to be 
transposed; if he once said, "I have sores on my feet,' 1 he 
would not permit me to say, " On my feet I have sores." 
His soul, now softened and irritated by the sentiment of pity, 
that is, of love, clothed every image in an artistic form, and 
denied everything that did not correspond to the idea of 
eternal beauty and harmony. 

' The moment Semka was carried away into giving dispro- 
portionate details about the lambs in the enclosure, and so 
forth, Fedka grew angry and said, " What a lot of bosh ! " I 
only needed to suggest what the peasant was doing, while his 
wife went to the gossip, to call forth at once in Fedka's 
imagination a picture with lambs bleating at the enclosure, 
with the sighs of the old man and the delirium of the boy 
Serezhka; I only needed to suggest an artificial and false 
picture, to make him immediately remark angrily that that 
was not necessary. 

'For example, I suggested the description of the peasant's 
looks, to which he agreed ; but to my proposition to describe 
what the peasant was thinking when his wife had run over to 
the gossip, there immediately rose before him this very way of 
expressing his thought, " If you got in the way of Savdska, the 
corpse, he would pull all your locks out ! " He said this, leaning 
his head on his hand the while, with such a tone of fatigue and 



LESSON IN COMPOSITION 341 

quiet gravity although in his usual good-natured voice that 
the boys shook with laughter. 

' The chief quality in every art, the feeling of measure, was 
developed in him to an extraordinary degree. He writhed at 
the suggestion of any superfluous feature, made by some one 
of the boys. 

' He directed the structure of the story so despotically, and 
with such right to this despotism, that the boys soon went 
home, and only he and Semka, who would not give in to him, 
though working in another direction, were left. We worked 
from seven to eleven o'clock ; they felt neither hunger nor 
fatigue, and even got angry at me when I stopped writing; 
they undertook to relieve me in writing, but they soon gave 
that up as matters would not go well. 

1 It was then for the first time that Fedka asked my name. 
We laughed because he did not know. 

* " I know, 1 ' he said, " how to call you ; but how do they 
call you in the manor ? We have such names as Fokanychef, 
Zyabref, Ermilin." 

* I told him. 

' " Are we going to print it ? " he asked. 

'"Yes." 

' " Then we shall have to print work by Makarov, Morozov, 
and Tolstoy." 

' He was agitated for a long time and could not sleep, and I 
cannot express the feeling of agitation, joy, fear, and almost 
regret, which I experienced during that evening. I felt that 
with that day a new world of enjoyment and suffering was 
opened up to him the world of art; I thought that I had 
received an insight into what no one has a right to see the 
germination of the mysterious flower of poetry. 

' I felt both dread and joy, like the seeker after the treasure 
who suddenly sees the flower of the fern I felt joy, because 
suddenly and quite unexpectedly there was revealed to me that 
stone of the philosophers, which I had vainly been trying to 
find for two years the art of teaching the expression of 
thought; and dread, because this art made new demands 
brought with it a whole world of desires, which stood in no 
relation to the surroundings of the pupils, as I thought in the 
first moment. There was no mistaking. It was not an acci- 
dent, but a conscious creation. . . . 



' I gave up the lesson, because I was too much agitated. 

' " What is the matter with you ? You are so pale are 
you ill ? " my companion asked me. Indeed, only two or three 
times in my life have I experienced such a strong sensation as 
on that evening, and for a long time I was unable to render an 
account to myself of what I was experiencing. I distinctly felt 
that I had criminally looked through a glass hive at the work 
of the bees, concealed from the gaze of mortal man ; it seemed 
to me that I had debauched the pure, primitive soul of a 
peasant boy. I vaguely felt something like repentance for an 
act of sacrilege, ... and at the same time I was happy as a 
man must be happy who beholds that which no one has beheld 
before.' l 

3. THE FIEST LESSON IN HISTORY. 

Tolstoy narrates: 'I had intended to explain in the first 
lesson in what way Russia differed from other countries, where 
its frontiers were, the nature of the structure of its government, 
then to say who was the present ruler, and how and when the 
Emperor ascended the throne. 

* Teacher. Where do we live, in what country ? 
' A pupil. In Yasnaya Polyana. 

' Another pupil. In the field. 

' Teacher. No, in what country is Yasnaya Polyana, and the 
Government of Tula ? 

* Pupil. The Government of Tula is seventeen versts from 
us. Where is it? The Government is a Government, and 
that is all there is to say about it. 

' Teacher. No. Tula is the capital of the Government, but 
a Government is something different. Well, what country 
is it ? 

' Pupil (who has learnt some geography before). The earth is 
round like a ball. 

* By means of questions as to what country a German, whom 
they knew, had lived in before, and where they would get if 
they were to keep travelling all the time in one direction, the 
pupils were led up to answer that they lived in Russia. Some, 
however, replied to the question where we should get if we 
travelled all the time in one direction, that we should get 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. pp. 192-200. 



THE FIRST HISTORY LESSON 343 

nowhere. Others said that we should get to the end of the 
world. 

( Teacher (repeating the pupiTs answer). You said that we 
should come to some other countries; where will Russia end 
and other countries begin ? 

' Pupil. Where the Germans begin. 

' Teacher. So, if you meet Gustav Ivanovich and Karl 
Feodorovich in Tula, you will say that the Germans have begun 
and that there is a new country ? 

* Pupil. No, when the Germans begin thick. 

' Teacher. No, there are places in Russia where the Germans 
are thick. Ivan Fomich is from one of them, and yet that is 
still Russia. Why is it so ? 

* Silence. 

* Teacher. Because they obey the same laws with the Russians. 
4 Pupil. One law ? How so ? The Germans don^t come to 

our church and they eat meat on fast-days. 

' Teacher. I do not mean that kind of law, but they obey 
one Tsar. 

* Pupil (sceptical Semka). That is funny. Why have they 
a different law, and yet obey the Tsar. 

'The teacher feels the need of explaining what a law is, 
and so he asks what is meant by " obeying a law, 11 or " being 
under one law." 

' Girl (independent manorial girl, hurriedly and timidly). To 
accept the law means " to get married. 11 

'The pupils look inquiringly at the teacher. The teacher 
begins to explain that the law consists in putting a man in jail 
and in punishing him for stealing or killing. 

' Sceptic Semka. And have not the Germans such a law ? 

' Teacher. There are also laws with us about the gentry, 
the peasants, the merchants, the clergy (the word "clergy 11 
perplexes them). 

' Sceptic Semka. And have the Germans not got them ? 

' Teacher. In some countries there are such laws, and in 
others there are not. We have a Russian Tsar, and in the 
German countries there is a German Tsar. 

' This answer satisfies all the people and even sceptical Semka. 

' Thinking it was now time to pass on to explain what is meant 
by the classes, the teacher asks them what classes of society they 
know. The pupils begin to enumerate them : the gentry, the 



344 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

peasants, the popes, the soldiers. " Any more ?" asks the teacher. 
"The manorial servants, the burghers, the samovdr-makers." 
The teacher asks them to distinguish these classes. 

' Pupils. The peasants plough, the manorial servants serve 
their masters, the merchants trade, the soldiers serve, the 
samovar-makers get the samovars ready, the popes serve mass, 
the gentry do nothing. . . . 

* Then in the same order and under similar difficulties there 
follows an explanation of the idea of "Classes of Society," 
" frontiers," and other terms applied to the State. 

' The lesson lasts about two hours. The teacher is convinced 
that the pupils have retained a great deal of what has been 
said, and continues his subsequent lessons in the same strain, 
convincing himself only much later that his method was wrong, 
and that all that he has been doing has been the merest non- 
sense. 1 l 

4. THE SECOND LESSON IN HISTORY. 

' The holding this class has remained a memorable event in 
my life, 1 says Tolstoy. * I shall never forget it. The children 
had long been promised that I should tell them history, going 
backwards, vrhile another teacher would begin from the begin- 
ning, so that we should finally meet. My evening scholars had 
left me, and I came to the class of Russian history. They were 
talking about Svyatosl&v. They felt dull. On a tall bench 
sat in a row, as they always put themselves, three peasant girls, 
with their heads tied with kerchiefs. One was asleep. Mishka 
pushed me. " Look there, our cuckoos are sitting there one is 
asleep." And they were like cuckoos ! 

' " You had better tell us from the end," said some one, and 
all got up. 

'I sat down and began to talk. As always, the hubbub, the 
groans, the tussling, lasted about two minutes. Some were 
crawling under the table, some on the table, some under the 
benches, and on their neighbours 1 shoulders and knees, till at 
last all was silent. I began with Alexander I., told them of 
the French Revolution, of Napoleon's successes, of his seizing 
the government, and of the Avar which ended in the peace of 
Tilsit. The moment we reached Russia there were heard 
sounds and words expressing lively interest on all sides. 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. pp. 322-326. 



SECOND HISTORY LESSON 345 

' " Well, is he going to conquer us, too ? " 

' " Never mind, Alexander will give it to him ! " said some one 
who knew about Alexander, but I had to disappoint them the 
time had not yet come for that and they felt uncomfortable 
when they heard that the Tsar's sister was spoken of as a 
bride for Napoleon, and that Alexander spoke with him on the 
bridge, as if he was his equal. 

' " Just wait ! " exclaimed Petka, with a threatening gesture. 

' " Go on and tell us ! " 

' When Alexander declined to submit to him, that is, when 
Alexander declared war, all expressed their approbation. 
When Napoleon came against us at the head of twelve nations, 
and stirred up the Germans and Poland, their hearts sank 
from agitation. 

' A German, a friend of mine, was standing in the room. 

' " Ah, you were against us, too," said Petka (the best story- 
teller). 

' " Keep quiet ! " cried the others. 

' The retreat of our army tortured my audience, and on all 
sides were asked questions why? and curses were heaped on 
Kutuzof and Barclay. 

' " Your Kutuzof is no good ! " 

* " Just wait, 11 said another. 

* " Well, did he surrender ? " asked a third. 

* When we reached the battle of Borodino, and when in the end 
I was obliged to say that we did not gain a victory, I was sorry 
for them it was evident that I gave them all a terrible blow. 

* " Though our side did not win, theirs did not either ! " 

' When Napoleon came to Moscow and was waiting for the 
keys of the city and for submission, there was a burst of protest, 
as they had thought that they were unconquerable. The con- 
flagration of Moscow was, naturally, approved of by all. Then 
came the victory, Napoleon's retreat. 

* " When he came out of Moscow, Kutuzof rushed after him 
and went to fight him, 11 1 said. 

' " He made him rear ! 11 Fedka corrected me. 

'Fedka, red in his face, was sitting opposite me, and was 
bending his thin, tawny fingers with excitement. That is his 
habit. The moment he said this, the whole room groaned with 
pride and delight. A little fellow in the back row was being 
badly squeezed, but nobody paid any attention. 



346 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

' " That's better ! There, take the keys now ! " and so forth. 

'Then I continued, describing our pursuit of the French. 
It pained the children to hear that some one was too late at 
Berezina, and that we let them pass ; Petka even groaned with 
pain. 

* " I should have shot him dead for being late. 1 ' 

' Here we even had some pity for the frozen Frenchmen. 
Then, when we crossed the border, and the Germans, who had 
been against us, joined us, some one remembered the German 
who was standing in the room. 

' " How is that ? At first you are against us, and when the 
power is losing, you are with us ! " and suddenly all rose and 
shouted at the German, so that the noise could be heard in the 
street. When they quieted down I went on, telling them about 
our following up Napoleon as far as Paris, placing the real king 
on the throne, celebrating our victory, and feasting. But the 
recollection of the Crimean War spoiled the whole thing. 

' " Just wait," said Petka, shaking his fist, " let me grow up 
and I will show them ! " 

' If we had at that moment had a chance at the Shevardind 
redoubt and Mount Malakhof, we should certainly have taken 
them back. 

' It was late when I ended. As a rule the children are asleep 
at that time. No one was sleeping, and the eyes of the little 
cuckoos were burning. Just as I got up, Taraska crawled out 
from underneath my chair, to my great astonishment, and 
looked vivaciously, and, at the same time, seriously at me. 

4 " How did you get down there ? " 

' " He has been there all the time," some one said. 

' There was no need to ask him whether he had understood ; 
you could see that by his face. 

* " Well, are you going to tell about it ? " I asked. 

1 I ? " He thought awhile. I will tell the whole thing." 

1 " I will tell it at home." 

" So will I." 

4 "And I." 

4 "Is that all?" 

4 "Yes." 

' All flew down under the staircase, some promising to give 
it to the Frenchmen, others scolding the German, and others 
repeating how Kutuzof had made him " rear." 



* " Sie haben ganz Russisch erzaehlt" the German who had 
been hooted said to me in the evening. " You ought to hear 
how they tell the story in our country ! You said nothing 
about the German struggle for freedom. 11 

' I fully agreed with him that my narrative was not history, 
but a fanciful tale to rouse the national sentiment. 

* Consequently, as a study of history, this attempt was even 
less successful than the first. 11 

To give a full picture of Tolstoy as a schoolmaster we must 
add his views on the teaching of music. He gives a concise 
summary of his conclusions in four short paragraphs. 

'From the small experience which I have had in teaching 
music I have become convinced : 

' (1) That the method which consists in writing the sounds 
down in figures is the most convenient. 

' (2) That teaching time independently of sound is again the 
most convenient method. 

' (3) That, in order that musical instruction should produce 
permanent effect and be cheerfully received, it is necessary 
from the very outset to teach the art and not the skill of 
singing and playing. Young ladies may be made to play 
Burgmiiner 1 s exercises, but the children of the people it is 
better not to teach at all than to teach mechanically. 

'(4) That the aim of musical instruction must consist in 
giving the pupils that knowledge of the common laws of music 
which we possess, but by no means in transmitting that false 
taste which is developed in us.' 2 

Drawing occupied a conspicuous place in the school course, 
but Tolstoy did not teach it himself, as he did not think 
he was competent, and this task was undertaken by a fellow 
teacher. 

In the spring of 1862 Tolstoy was very tired after his work 
as Peace Mediator and at the school, and, having some fear of 
consumption, he resolved to try the Koumiss treatment. 

Accompanied by his man-servant Alexey and two schoolboys 
he went to the province of Samara in the middle of May. 

He wrote from Moscow to his aunt Tatiana, informing 
her that he and his companions were all well, and giving 

1 The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy, vol. iv. pp. 327-330. 

2 Ibid., pp. 359-360. 



her certain advice and messages in connection with the 
school. 

They went by rail to Tver, and then on by a steamer which 
was to take them down the river Volga to Samara. 

On the voyage Tolstoy probably was in that very happy 
mood which is so often enjoyed by all travellers upon the 
Volga. The great river in its spring overflow, the soft 
murmur of the steamer as it moved, the fascinating spring 
nights with their starlit skies, the mirror-like river, the lights 
of the shore and the vessel, the pilgrims, monks, Tartars, and 
other passengers, who, in spite of the great variety of types, 
conditions, nationalities, and religions, bear on them a dis- 
tinctive Great Russian cachet ; possibly thoughts of the great 
historic past of the river and its banks all these make an 
incomparably gladdening and softening impression, and bring 
with them many thoughts and dreams. 

Tolstoy probably had some similar sensations, for on May 20 
he wrote in his diary : 

' On board steamer. It seems as if I were again awakening 
to life and to the understanding of it. The thought as to the 
absurdity of progress pursues me. With the intelligent and 
the silly, with old men and with children, I keep discussing 
this one thing.' 

On his way Tolstoy stopped with his relation Vladimir 
Ivanovich Yushkof, in Kazan. 

Then, from Samara itself, he wrote to his aunt : 

May 27, 1862. 

* ... I have had a splendid journey ; I like the locality very 
much, my health is better, i.e. I cough less. Alexey and the 
boys are alive and well, as you may tell their parents. . . .' 

He next wrote from the place where he was undergoing his 
treatment : 

' June 28, 1862. 

*. . . Alexey and myself have become stouter, especially 
Alexey, but we cough a little, and again especially Alexey. 
We are living in a Kibitka. 1 I found my friend Stolypin was 
an Ataman 2 at Uralsk, where I visited him. I brought from 

1 A Tartar tent. 

2 Cossack Commander. 



A POLICE RAID 349 

there a clerk, but I do not dictate or write much. Laziness 
quite overpowers one when taking koumis. In a fortnight 
I intend returning home. I am troubled by want of news in 
these wilds, and also by the consciousness that I am dreadfully 
behindhand with the publication of the journal. I kiss your 
hands, Please write in detail about Seryozha, Masha, the 
students whom I greet. 

' Enclosed are letters from the boys to their teachers.' 

While he was spending a peaceful time in the Bashkir 
Steppes an unexpected event took place in the school at 
Yasnaya Polyana. 

There can be no doubt that the powerful preaching of 
freedom of speech and action at the school could not but 
attract the attention of the authorities, and Yasnaya Polyana 
was denounced to those whom it concerned as a centre of 
criminal revolutionary propaganda. In the summer 1862 the 
police appeared in the school and made a perquisition. 

A full description of this is to be found in the reminiscences 
of E. Markof in his article printed in the Messenger of Europe. 

1 1 cannot help mentioning a characteristic episode,' says 
Markof, ' known only to a very few persons, but which had 
been the cause of Tolstoy's giving up educational work. As 
a Peace Mediator of the first elected group, Tolstoy warmly 
sympathised with the liberation of the serfs, and naturally 
acted in a direction which provoked a large majority of land- 
owners against him. He has received a number of threatening 
letters ; they threatened to knock him down or shoot him in a 
duel ; and he has been denounced to the authorities. It so 
happened that just at the very time when the magazine 
Yasnaya Polyana was started by Tolstoy, proclamations of 
different revolutionary parties made their appearance in St. 
Petersburg, and the police were actively engaged searching for 
the hidden printing press. Some one of Tolstoy's political 
enemies craftily insinuated that certain secret leaflets containing 
appeals for co-operation could be printed only in the printing- 
office of a magazine published horribile dictu! not in- a 
town, as all respectable people would have it done, but in the 
country. In fabricating this, they only omitted to give a 
glance at the title-page, where it was stated in big type that 
the review was published in the most respectable printing- 



350 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

office of M. N. Katkof in Moscow. The denunciation, never- 
theless, created a real storm. 

' In the absence of Tolstoy, his house was being kept by his 
elderly aunt, and his sister, also married to a Tolstoy, was 
staying there with her children on a visit. Our common 
friend G. A. Auerbach and myself were spending the summer 
with our families at a distance of about five versts from 
Yasnaya Polyana, in a house let to us by a landowner in the 
same Raspberry Abattis where Yasnaya Polyana was. One 
early morning a messenger from Yasnaya Polyana arrived. 
We were requested to come as soon as possible on important 
business. Auerbach and I jumped into a waggonette and 
hurried on as hard as we could. On our entering the court- 
yard we were faced with a real invasion ; there were post- 
chaises drawn by teams of three horses with their bells, con- 
veyances of local inhabitants, the head of the police district, 
the commissary of rural police, local policemen, witnesses, and 
in addition to all this gendarmes. The colonel of the gen- 
darmes arrived with jingling and bustle at the head of this 
fearful expedition into Tolstoy's peaceful abode, to the great 
consternation of the village people. After some difficulty we 
succeeded in entering the house. The poor ladies were almost 
fainting. Everywhere there were watchmen, everything was 
opened, shifted about, and turned upside down tables, drawers, 
wardrobes, chests of drawers, boxes, caskets, &c. Crowbars 
were used in the stables to lift the floors; the ponds in the 
park were searched by means of nets in order to catch the 
criminal printing-press, instead of which only innocent carp 
and crabs made their appearance. 

* It need hardly be said that, in the first place, the unfortu- 
nate school had been turned upside down ; but, finding nothing 
there, the searchers went in the same noisy, bustling procession, 
with sounding bells, to pay a visit apparently to all the seven- 
teen schools of the peace districts, everywhere turning over 
tables and ransacking cupboards, carrying off exercise-books 
and school manuals, putting teachers under arrest, and creating 
the wildest conjectures in the heads of the peasants, who were 
generally unfavourable to schools.' l 

Prince D. D. Obolensky speaks of the same incident in 

1 E. Markof , ' The Living Soul in School : Thoughts and Reminiscences of 
an Old Educationist.' Menenger of Ewope, p. 584, February 1900. 



A POLICE RAID 351 

his reminiscences, with the addition of some interesting 
details : 

* The school of Yasnaya Polyana was getting on splendidly. 
But as most of the school teachers were students, the authori- 
ties did not very much favour the institution, and suspected 
that there must be something politically unsound in Yasnaya 
Polyana. Even an officer of the gendarmes called, but of 
course could not find anything, for there was nothing to find. 
Only in one room in the house of Yasnaya Polyana, which was 
converted into a schoolroom, the attention of the officer was 
attracted by a photographic apparatus. In 1862 this was still 
a novelty, especially in the provinces and villages. " What is 
that ? " sternly inquired the officer. " Whose photos are taken 
here?" The students, of course, did not like his visit, and 
one of them said for fun, " Kergen's, from nature." " How 
Kergen ? " inquired the officer. But the laughter explained to 
him that it was a joke, and he left the place biting his lips.'" 1 

Zakharyin Yakunin tells the following in his Reminiscences 
of the Countess A. A. Tolstoy : 

' Relating to her this humiliating incident, Tolstoy added : 
" I often say to myself, what a very lucky thing it is that I 
was not at home ! If I had been, I should by this time have 
been tried for murder." It is easy to explain these strong 
words used by Tolstoy forty-two years ago, if one remembers 
the great shock suffered by his dearest friends at the time his 
aunt and his sister. It is enough to say that the Police Com- 
missary of Tula, Kobelyatsky, gave permission to Tolstoy's sister 
to leave the study for the drawing-room, and then to go to bed 
only after he had read before her, and in the presence of two 
gendarmes, all those intimate letters which we mentioned in 
their place, as well as Tolstoy's diary, and everything Tolstoy 
had written and kept hidden from all since the age of 
sixteen. . . . 

' The owner of Yasnaya Polyana did not wish to leave such 
unnecessary harshness unpunished, so he cut short his medical 
treatment and went home. He wrote to Countess A. A. 
Tolstoy immediately upon receiving news of the police inva- 
sion, and asked her to communicate all the details of the affair 
to those in power who knew him well, and on whose protection 

1 ' Sketches and Reminiscences by Prince D. D. Obolensky.' The Russian 
Archive, Book X., 1894. 



352 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

he could rely, i.e. to Count B. A. Perovsky, Countess H. D. 
Bludof, and others. What Tolstoy requested was, not the 
punishment of those who committed the outrage, but the re- 
storation of his good name in the eyes of the peasants around 
him, and security against similar incidents in the future. 

* " This affair I positively do not wish to and cannot leave 
alone, 11 he wrote ; " all the employment in which I had found 
happiness and peace is spoilt. Auntie is so ill from fright that 
she will probably not recover. The people look upon me no 
longer as an honest man an opinion, on their part, which I 
have earned during many years but as a criminal, an incen- 
diary, or a coiner, who has escaped merely owing to his 
slyness. . . . 

* " Ah ! friend, you have been caught . . . you needn't talk to 
us any more about honesty and justice you have almost been 
handcuffed yourself. 11 

* " As to the landowners, it goes without saying there is one 
outburst of delight. Please tell me at once, after consulting 
Perovsky or Alexey Tolstoy, or whom you like, how I am to 
write and to transmit my letter to the Emperor. I have no 
other choice than either to receive a satisfaction as public as 
the insult (it is too late for any redress), or else to expatriate 
myself, upon which I have firmly decided. To Herzen I will 
not go ; Herzen has his own way, and I have mine. Nor will 
I conceal matters, but will loudly proclaim that I am selling 
my estate in order to leave Russia, where it is impossible to 
know for one minute what you have to expect. 11 

' It is a long letter written on eight large pages. Informing 
her at the end that the colonel of gendarmes on leaving had 
threatened Yasnaya Polyana with a new search till he should 
find out " what was hidden, 11 Tolstoy added : 

* " Loaded pistols are in my room, and I $m waiting to see 
how all this will end." 

* I remember Tolstoy telling me that he felt extremely hurt 
by this meddling of the police in his affairs, the more so as 
the visit and the search of the police were made during his 
absence. He made up his mind to complain of it to the 
Emperor Alexander II., and at the latter's visit to Moscow, 
when he met him in the Alexandrovsk Garden, he personally 
handed him a petition. The Emperor received his petition, 
and I believe sent one of his adjutants to apologise. 1 



OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENCE 353 

But the authorities were far from pacified, and a corres- 
pondence between the Ministers of the Interior and of Instruc- 
tion ensued on the subject of the review Yasnaya Polyana. 
We quote extracts from this correspondence printed in the 
reminiscences of Oossof : 

' The Minister of Interior informed the Minister of Instruc- 
tion on October 3, 1862 : 

'The careful reading of the educational review Yasnaya 
Polyana., edited by Count Tolstoy, leads to the conclusion 
that this review, in preaching new methods of tuition and 
principles of popular schools, frequently spreads ideas which, 
besides being incorrect, are injurious in their teaching. With- 
out entering into a full examination of the doctrines of the 
review, and without pointing out any particular articles or 
expressions which, however, could be easily done I consider 
it necessary to draw the attention of your Excellency to the 
general tendency and spirit of the review, which very often 
attacks the fundamental rules of religion and morality. The 
continuation of the review in the same spirit must, in my 
opinion, be considered the more dangerous as its editor is a 
man of remarkable and one may say even a fascinating talent, 
who cannot be suspected to be a criminal or an unprincipled 
man. The evil lies in the sophistry and eccentricity of his 
convictions, which, being expounded with extraordinary elo- 
quence, may carry away inexperienced teachers in this direction, 
and thus give a wrong turn to popular education. I have the 
honour to inform you of this, hoping that you may consider 
it useful to draw the special attention of the censor to this 
publication. 1 

Having received this report, the Minister of Instruction 
issued an order for the examination of all the printed books of 
the review Yasnaya Polyana^ and, on October 24 of the same 
year, informed the Minister of the Interior that in accordance 
with the examination made by his subordinates, and the report 
presented to him, he saw nothing dangerous or contrary to 
religion in the review Yasnaya Polyana. One only came at 
times across extreme views upon the subject of education, 
which might very well be criticised in scientific educational 
reviews, but not forbidden by the censor. 

'On the whole,' continued the Minister of Public Instruc- 
tion, * I must say that Count Tolstoy's work as an educationist 

VOL. 1. Z 



354 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

deserves full respect, and the Ministry of Public Instruction is 
bound to help him and give him encouragement, even though 
not sharing all his views, which, after maturer consideration, 
he will probably give up himself.' l 

The liberal Ministry of Public Instruction was mistaken. 
Tolstoy did not give up his ideas ; but all those attacks had 
prevented the further development of his school work in Yasnaya 
Polyana. 

1 E. Solovyof, Leo Tolstoy: His Life and Literary Activity, p. 73. Pub- 
lished by Pavlenkof, St. Petersburg, 1897. 



CHAPTER XVI 
MARRIAGE SHORT REVIEW OF TOLSTOY'S WORKS 

Dissatisfaction of Tolstoy with his educational work His account of it in 
Confession The loss at play to Eatkof The selling of The Costacks 
Turgenefs letter The narrative of the Countess S. A. Tolstoy Fet'g 
description of his visit to the family Bers Account of Tolstoy's sister-in- 
law of his relations to her family Account of same by the Countess S. A. 
Tolstoy Declaration of love at card table The proposal Reflection of 
these relations in his diary Tolstoy's diary read by his fiancee The 
wedding Departure to Yasnaya Polyana Letter to Fet The new life 
Review of the works The Snowstorm, The Memoirs of a Marker, The Two 
Hussars, Family Happiness, Polikushka The attitude of the critics. 

NOTWITHSTANDING the apparent success of his educational work, 
Tolstoy could not be entirely satisfied with it ; however grand 
the building which he had so cleverly planned, he was not 
sure of the firmness of its foundation. For him this founda- 
tion was non-existent. His analytical brain prevented him from 
resting on unstable foundations, and a really firm one he had 
not found. 

This dissatisfaction was expressed in his Confession in the 
following words in reference to that period : 

> I believed that I had found a solution abroad, and armed 
with that conviction, I returned to Russia, the same year in 
which the peasants were freed from serfdom, and, accepting the 
office of a country magistrate or arbitrator, I began to teach 
the uneducated people in the schools, and the educated classes 
by means of the journals which I published. Things seemed 
to be going on well, but I felt that my mind was not in a 
normal state, and that a change was near. I might then, 
perhaps, have come to that state of absolute despair to which 
I was brought fifteen years later, if it had not been for a new 
experience in life which promised me safety the home life 
of a family man. For a year I occupied myself with my duties 
as arbitrator, with the schools, and with my newspaper, and 
my work became so involved that I was harassed to death ; my 

365 



356 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

arbitration was one continual struggle; what to do in the 
schools became less and less clear, and my newspaper shuffling 
more and more repugnant to me. It was always the same 
thing, trying to teach without knowing how or what. So that 
I fell ill, more with mental than physical sickness, gave up 
everything, and started for the steppes to breathe a fresher 
air, to drink mare's milk, and live a mere animal life. 

* Soon after my return I married. 1 

The following incident in the life of Tolstoy took place 
about the same time. 

Still a passionate gambler, he often fell a victim to his own 
excesses. Thus in the beginning of 1862 Tolstoy, in a game 
of billiards, lost 1000 roubles to Katkof, the well-known 
publicist and editor of Moscow News. 

He was unable to meet this debt, and, in lieu of payment, 
gave his unfinished novel, The Cossacks, to be printed in the 
magazine the Russian Messenger, published by Katkof himself. 
It appeared in January 1863 in its unfinished shape, and in 
consequence of disagreeable recollections connected with it, 
Tolstoy gave it up and never finished the story. 

Being informed of this incident by Botkin, Turgenef wrote 
about it to Fet : 

'Tolstoy has written to Botkin that he played against luck 
in Moscow, and got from Katkof 1000 roubles as a deposit 
for his Caucasian novel. May God grant he returns to his true 
work, if even in this manner. His Childhood and Youth have 
appeared in an English translation, and it seems are popular. 
I asked a friend of mine to write an article on it in the Revue 
des Deux Mondes. One ought to have intercourse with the 
people, but to long for it like a woman who is enceinte is 
ridiculous.' 

At that time Tolstoy used very often to visit the house of 
Dr. Bers, with whom he was to be more closely connected by 
family ties. 

* We were still little girls,' said the Countess Tolstoy to the 
biographer Loewenfeld, * when Tolstoy first visited our house. 
He was then already a well-known writer, and lived in Moscow 
in a gay, noisy style. One day Tolstoy rushed into our room 
and joyfully informed us that he had just sold his Cossacks to 
Katkof for a thousand roubles. We thought the price very 
low. Then he explained that he had to do it, that he had 




THE COUNTESS S. A. TOLSTOY IN 1860 
BEFORE HER MARRIAGE 



THE BERS FAMILY 357 

lost that sum of money at a game of " China billiards," and 
that it was for him a matter of honour to settle the debt 
immediately. He intended to write the second part of The 
Cos&acks, but he has never done it. His news so much upset 
us little girls that we cried, walking up and down the room.' 

About this time Tolstoy again became friendly with Fet, 
the estrangement from whom had been the result of the 
quarrel with Turgenef. Of this renewal of their friendly 
relations Fet speaks thus : 

* If my memory which keeps correctly not only events of 
importance in my life, but even the precise words used on 
any odd occasion did not retain the circumstances of our 
reconciliation with Tolstoy after his ill-tempered postscript, 
it only proves that his anger against me was like a hailstorm 
in July, which was bound to melt by itself. Yet I suppose it 
did not occur without BorisoFs help. However this may be, 
Tolstoy again appeared on our horizon, and with the enthu- 
siasm peculiar to him began to speak of his friendship with 
the family of Dr. Bers. 

' Having accepted the offer of the Count to introduce me to 
the Bers family, I met the doctor, a polite and well-mannered 
old man, and a beautiful, distinguished-looking brunette his 
wife, who was evidently the ruler of the household. I refrain 
from describing the three young ladies, the youngest of whom 
possessed a beautiful contralto voice. Notwithstanding the 
careful supervision of their mother and their perfect modesty, 
they all possessed the charm which the French call du chien, 
The dinner-table and the dinner of the domineering hostess 
were irreproachable. 1 1 

Of the attitude of Tolstoy to the Bers family and his 
gradual preparation for the marriage we learn from a private 
letter of Tolstoy's sister-in-law : 

* His relations with our house are of long standing : our 
grandfather Islenef and Tolstoy's father were neighbouring 
landowners as well as friends. Their families had been in 
constant communication, and it is through this that my mother 
and Tolstoy were like sister and brother in their childhood. 
He used to call on us when he was an officer. My mother 
was then already married and on very friendly terms with 
Tolstoy's sister, and at her house as a child I often met 

1 A. Fet, My Reminiscences, vol. i. 



358 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

Tolstoy. He used to get up all sorts of games with his nieces 
and myself. I was about ten at that time, and have but little 
recollection of him. When he returned from abroad in the 
year of his marriage, he had not seen us for several years, and, 
coming to Pokrovskoye (near Moscow), he found my two elder 
sisters already grown up. He brought with him a teacher, 
Keller, from abroad, and engaged a few more teachers in 
Moscow for his school, which occupied his attention very much. 

' He almost always came on foot to Pokrovskoye (12 versts). 
We went out with him for long walks. He took great interest 
in our life, and became very intimate with us. Once we, my 
mother and we three sisters, went for a fortnight to grand- 
father's country place in the province of Tula, of course 
driving, and he joined our company. On the way we called 
at Yasnaya Polyana. He lived with his aunt Tatiana Alex- 
androvna Yergolsky and his sister Marie, who were the ladies 
that my mother stopped with. The next day a picnic was 
arranged at Yasnaya Polyana, in the coppice, with the families 
of Auerbach and Markof. Haymaking was going on in the 
abattis, and we all climbed up a haystack. After this Tolstoy 
followed us to " Tvitzi," my grandfather's property, and there, 
at the card-table, occurred the declaration in *' primary letters," 
as described in Anna Karenin. In September we moved to 
Moscow, where he too followed, and on the 17th of the 
month the intended wedding was made known in Moscow. 
During the whole of his stay in Moscow he was everywhere and 
always lively, gay, and witty he was like a volcano throwing 
out sacred sparks and fire. I remember him often at the 
piano; he would bring music, rehearsed the cherubic song of 
Bortniansky with us, and many other songs. He accompanied 
me every day and called me Mme. Viardot, urging me to be 
always singing.' 

This is how Countess Tolstoy herself tells about her 
wedding, in a conversation with Loewenfeld. We amplify and 
correct the narrative which we heard from the Countess : 

' The Count visited our house constantly at that time. .We 
thought he was courting our elder sister, and my father was 
perfectly sure of it down to the last minute, when Tolstoy 
asked him for my hand. This was in 1862. We went with 
our mother in August to visit our grandfather via Yasnaya 
Polyana. My mother wanted to call on Tolstoy's sister, and 



TOLSTOY'S ENGAGEMENT 359 

we, the three sisters and our younger brother, therefore 
remained for a few days there. Nobody was astonished at 
the Count's attention to us, our acquaintance being, as I have 
told you, of long standing, and the Count had always been very 
kind to us. "Tvitzi," our grandfather's property, or rather 
that of his wife, nee Islenef for his own land he lost by card- 
playing was fifty versts from Yasnaya Polyana. A few days 
later Tolstoy arrived and, in a word, here took place a scene 
similar to that described in Anna Karenm^ when Levin made 
his love declaration in "primary letters," and Kitty guessed it 
at once. Up to the present, 1 said the Countess with a smile, 
proving that the mere recollection of it caused her pleasure, 
' I cannot understand how I made out the meaning of the 
letters then. It must be true, that souls attuned to one 
another give out the same sound even as do equally tuned 
chords.' 

The sentences exchanged by Tolstoy and the lady who 
became his wife, which had been written only in primary 
letters, were the following: 

'I.y.f.e.a.f.i.a.t.m.a.y.s.L.Y.a.T.m.d.i.' This 
meant : ' In your family exists a false idea as to me and your 
sister Liza. You and Tanichka must destroy it.' 

The Countess guessed the sentence and nodded affirmatively. 

Then he wrote thus : 

'Y.y.a.d.f.h.r.m.t.v.o.m.a.a.a.t.i.o.h.,' 
which meant: 'Your youth and desire for happiness remind 
me too vividly of my advanced age and the impossibility of 
happiness.' 

Nothing more was said between them, but they understood 
and were sure of one another. 

They went to Moscow, whither Tolstoy followed them. He 
lived in town, and the family of Bers were generally in 
Pokrovskoye-Glebovo, twelve versts from Moscow, where they 
had lived every summer for twenty years. Tolstoy was their 
daily visitor. All in the house were perfectly sure that he 
was going to propose to the elder daughter. But on Sep- 
tember 17, the Saint's Day of Sofya Andreyevna, Tolstoy 
handed her a letter in which he made her a proposal of 
marriage. Of course, this was joyfully accepted by her; but 
her father was displeased, he did not like to give the younger 
daughter in marriage before the elder one, as it was against old 



360 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

customs, and he at first refused his consent. But the per- 
sistence of Tolstoy and the firmness of Sofya Andreyevna 
induced him to yield. 

In Tolstoy's diary we find the following vivid reflections of 
these events. 

After one of the visits to the family Bers, he wrote down 
on August 23 : 

' I am afraid of myself. What if it is only the desire to 
love but not love ? I try to look only at her weak side, and 
yet I love.' 

At the same time he felt the loneliness of his public life. 

' I got up in good health, with an especially clear head ; my 
writing came easily, but the subject matter is poor. Then I 
felt so sad as I have not for long. I have no friends, none. 
I am alone. There were friends when I served Mammon, and 
there are none when I serve the truth. 1 

At last on August 26 he wrote : 

' I went to the Bers's at Pokrovskoye on foot. I felt at 
peace, comfortable. Sonia gave me a story to read. What 
energy of truth and simplicity ! She is troubled with its 
indefiniteness. I read it all without agitation, without any 
symptoms of jealousy or envy, but the words " of excessively 
unattractive appearance and inconstancy of views 11 hit me 
splendidly. I consoled myself by the thought that it was not 
about me. 1 

Unfortunately this story was never given to the world; it 
was destroyed by the author. 

On August 28, his birthday, when he was thirty-four years 
old, we once more see in his diary marks of hesitation, self- 
accusation, and a struggle. He wrote : 

' I got up in the usual sadness. I have planned a society 
for apprentices. A sweet, quieting night. You ugly face, 
don't think of marriage, your calling is of another kind, and 
much has been given for it.' 

But want of family happiness got the upper hand, and the 
desire of love turned at last into real passionate love, which 
knew no bars whatever. And yet notwithstanding the power 
of this passion, Tolstoy here too displayed his honesty and 
love of truth. After having already made his proposal and 
been accepted, he handed to his betrothed all the diaries of his 
bachelor days, with all his expressions of self-reproach and his 



HIS MARRIAGE 361 

perfectly sincere description of his youthful escapades, and the 
excesses and moral conflicts which he had gone through. 

The reading of the diary was a blow which caused deep 
suffering to the young girl, who had seen in her hero the ideal 
of all virtues. The suffering was so great and the struggle she 
went through so hard that at times she hesitated, and wondered 
whether she should not sever the link. But love swept away 
all hesitation, and after nights of weeping she returned him 
his diary with a look in which he read forgiveness, and a 
stronger and still more courageous love than before. 

The wedding was fixed for a very early date, the end of the 
week following the formal pi oj>osal, September 23. 

The marriage took place at the Kremlin in the Court church, 
and immediately after it the newly married couple drove away 
in a dormeuse to Yasnaya Polyana, where they were met by 
Tolstoy's brother and his aunt Tatiana Alexandrovna. 

The brother of Countess Tolstoy, S. A. Bers, in his reminis- 
cences thus describes his sister : 

' My late father did not approve of schools for girls, so that 
Tolstoy's wife was brought up at home, but she went through 
an examination and received the diploma of a teacher. While 
a girl she kept her diary, tried to write stories, and showed 
some talent for painting. 1 l 

Soon after his marriage Tolstoy wrote to Fet : 

' FETOUSHKA, DKAH OLD FELLOW, I have been married for 
two weeks and am happy, and a new, quite a new man. I 
wished to come to see you, but cannot manage it. When shall 
I see you ? Having come to myself I value you very much 
indeed, and there is between us too much in common and 
unforgetable Nicolenka and much besides. Come to make 
my acquaintance. I kiss Marya Petrovna's hands. Good-bye, 
dear friend. I embrace you with all my heart. 12 

With his marriage Tolstoy entered upon a new phase of 
life, the family phase, 'yet unknown to him, but promising 
salvation, 1 as he says in his Confession. We shall see in our 
further narrative how far these expectations of Tolstoy were 
justified. The spirit of analysis did not spare even this 

1 8. A. Bers, Reminiscences of Count L. A r . ToUtoy, p. 13. 

2 A. Fet, My Reminiscences. 

VOL. I. 2 A 



362 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

harbour of salvation, and destroyed this illusion also. But 
all-powerful reason lifted him a step higher. In the next 
volume we hope to peep into this mysterious process so far 
as is possible. 

During this period Tolstoy wrote, beside those already 
mentioned, the following books: The Snow Storm, The Diary 
of a Marker, The Two Hussars, Family Happiness, and 
Pottkushka, and he also began a new story entitled The Cloth- 
Measurer. 

The Snow Storm presents a winter landscape. While read- 
ing it you not only see before you the storm, the snow-bound 
road, and the wandering drivers with their vehicles, but you 
hear all the sounds of the storm, and feel in the elements a kind 
of soft, evanescent life. 

In the Diary of a Marker is presented a pure, sweet, human 
soul gradually lost in the midst of town debauchery. 

In The Two Hussars are pictured two generations : the old 
which indulged in all kinds of excesses, but which at the same 
time was unsophisticated and sincere, and therefore lived in 
harmony with nature, and beside it the young generation 
viciously cautious, calculating and hypocritical. The harmony 
of nature is broken, and the harmony of consciousness not yet 
found, and the soul, depraved by vice, sounds with horrible 
discord. 

Family Happiness is a quiet, touching story of family 
affection and the author's experience. 

Polikushka a tragedy of serfdom, the trifling of the senti- 
mental gentry with the peasant's soul, which possesses, hidden 
under its coarse appearance, the finest moral traits, that break 
at the mere touch of the perverted and decadent nobility. 

The critics of the sixties paid very little attention to these 
remarkable works. 

They looked for a certain public standard, and had not 
enough sensibility to perceive the higher moral beauty with 
which these works were imbued. 

This silence of the critics induced one of them to write an 
article entitled 'The Phenomena of Contemporary Literature 
passed over by our Critics. Count L. Tolstoy and his Works. 1 

We consider it out of place to enter into detailed criticism 
of these works, and we mention them only as facts, proving the 
unceasing inner creative work of Tolstoy. 



CHAPTER XVII 
CONCLUSION 

Attitude to reality Traits of Tolstoy's character resulting in his further 
development Passionate nature Truthfulness Love of good Dissatis- 
faction, absence of foundation Search for it Development. 

IN this cursory review almost half of Leo Tolstoy's life lies 
before us. 

Fearing to distort his original thoughts and the facts of his 
life by unskilled handling, I have tried wherever possible to 
let Tolstoy himself, or those nearest to him, his relatives and 
friends, his acquaintances and comrades, expound those 
thoughts and facts, reducing my part of the work to the 
presentation of a series of interesting pictures. 

Notwithstanding the rawness of material, I believe that the 
nature of Tolstoy's personality during this half of his life must 
stand out clearly before the reader. To this end certain strik- 
ing traits may be pointed out which impress one, and which 
appear as leading on to his further development. 

One of these is his extraordinary capacity for being passion- 
ately carried away by anything brought within his sphere. 
Whether that happened to be hunting or card-playing, music 
or reading, school-teaching or farming, he exhausted to the 
very utmost each set of new impressions, transformed it in 
his artistic laboratory, and presented it to the world in lovely 
shapes, penetrated with high moral and philosophic meaning. 

The same passionate ardour he carried into his search for 
truth, for the meaning of human life, and with the same power 
of genius he transformed and gave to the world the results of 
his work. 

The other striking trait of his character is its truthfulness ; 
a sincerity which feared nothing, which often caused disagree- 
able encounters, but more often, and finally, brought him to 
the God of Truth, whom he always served, however uncon- 
sciously overshadowed by varying temporary attractions. 



303 



364 BIOGRAPHY OF LEO TOLSTOY 

The third and final trait of his character is the love of 
goodness ; the enjoyment of it, and the incessant labour upon 
himself in view of widening the domain of goodness, the 
winning others over to the path of goodness, the striving to 
show to others all its beauty. 

It is evident that these three traits, combined with his 
natural gifts, were sufficient to win for him the world-wide 
influence he now possesses. 

But glancing at the first half of his life we notice yet one 
more remarkable trait his constant dissatisfaction with him- 
self, with his social activity, with his literary work. This 
dissatisfaction has been maintained in him by constant self- 
analysis, which never allowed him to find rest in any of the 
beautiful illusions floating before him. 

This dissatisfaction was not a sickly, causeless complaining. 
Deep and real causes lay at the bottom of it. With all the 
great resources of his spiritual development, he was devoid of 
a substantial foundation of the synthesis of all the ideas in 
which he was interested. He often approached the solution of 
the great problem, but could not get hold of it, passed on, and 
again suffered intensely and deeply. 

These waverings round the one the only possible, necessary, 
and satisfactory solution explain all his apparent contradic- 
tions, his reasonings and self-accusations. 

In the next volume we hope to narrate that current of 
events in Tolstoy\s life which brought him to the moment 
when the thirst for truth, and the suffering occasioned by not 
finding it, culminated, and eventually led him to the only 
solution, the only foundation of life, and the only guide in 
his further exertions to religion. 



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